Expect ridiculousness and hilarity with Montezuma-Cortez High School theater department’s show: “The Play That Goes Wrong" on view this weekend.
“This year, I decided that we needed some comedy in the community, and just in the world, and we need to laugh,” said Nicholaus Sandner, M-CHS drama teacher and theater director.
The show opened last weekend, and will continue Saturday and Sunday with performances at 7 p.m in the M-CHS Ralph Vavak Auditorium. A matinee is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday.
About 50 students have worked on and off stage to make the two-hour production possible.
Two farce one-act skits coalesce to mold an absurd comedy production depicting fictitious performances that dissolve into shambles.
The second act, ”The One Act Play That Goes Wrong,“ follows actors staging a murder mystery that disintegrates. It is derived from ”The Play That Goes Wrong,“ a one-act play – later covered by famous director J.J. Abrams and Broadway – which evolved into the television show ”The Goes Wrong Show.“
"A Radio Drama Falls Apart,“ the first play in the sequence, is about actors performing a 1930s radio drama that also quickly crumbles. Sandner dreamed up this accompaniment ensemble, drawing inspiration from the school’s own radio dramas remotely recorded and locally aired during COVID-19-related school closures.
Sandner describes the show as a “physical comedy” – a style of production he said was new to students.
“There’s a lot of technical stuff that goes on that, hopefully, the audience won’t even notice,” he said.
For instance, the set has to collapse at a moment’s notice. The actors have to safely fall, get “knocked out” by a door and get dragged through a window.
Implementing these actions took research, he said. The theater department took technique inspiration from violent movies, clowns and physical comedians, he said.
So far, the shows have been well-attended, and audiences have been receptive to the show’s humor, Sandner said.
“I had several people when they were leaving, say that their their stomachs hurt, because they were laughing so hard,” he said.
Auditions were held in August, and the show was originally slated to open in November.
But, Oct. 27 through Nov. 5, all but charter schools in the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1 were closed. With the addition of the holiday season and corresponding breaks from school, the play was postponed until now.
Rehearsals continued virtually through quarantine, Sandner said.
It wasn’t the only setback the theater department has faced in the wake of COVID-19, Sandner said.
This year’s production has produced a “pretty normal feeling,” Sandner said, as performers and audience members don’t have to wear masks.
“Our seasons have been very fluid for the last several years because of COVID,” he said.
In the spring of 2020, the theater department’s “Fiddler on the Roof” was canceled after its dress rehearsal because of school closures, he said.
“Basically, we had our dress rehearsal, we invited everybody to be able to see the show, and then our show was canceled after that, and so that was really heartbreaking,” Sandner said.
After a bout of online learning, the theater department came back with plans to perform “The Crucible” in fall 2020, but that production was pushed back to April, he said.
In spring 2021, however, the department’s self-created musical “Isle of Sky” graced the school’s stage on schedule in March, although students had to wear masks and the audience had to be socially distanced.
Tickets for “The Play That Goes Wrong” can be purchased at mchsdrama.org.