Break a leg: Fall play cast takes on comedy

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By Emma Galef, Umar Samdani and Aimee Buttenbaum, Staff Reporters and Co-T/E Life Editor

The atmosphere in the auditorium is light-hearted with the comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” opening Nov. 21 on Wagner Stage.  

“The Man Who Came to Dinner,” a 1930s comedy, is different from the dramas from the past two years. The main character, Sheridan Whiteside, played by senior J.P. Infortuna, is an egotistical radio celebrity who goes to dinner at the estate of a wealthy factory owner. While there, Whiteside breaks his hip and must stay at the house in a wheelchair for the remainder of the play. 

Infortuna enjoys the humor in this year’s play in comparison to the serious feel of past productions.

“In looking at ‘The Miracle Worker’ and ‘The Crucible,’ we had a lot of fun, and we have a lot of fun now, but the difference is, now the audience can laugh along with us,” Infortuna said.

Sophomore Becca Erwin, who plays the female lead, Maggie Cutler, also enjoys the light-hearted nature of rehearsals. 

“We tend to laugh at the jokes, but it’s still taken seriously,” Erwin said. “I love working with the cast. Everyone is so nice and supportive, and we are all close.” 

While Infortuna finds the entire play to be humorous, he believes that when senior Will Dusinberre comes on stage, the comedy really kicks in. 

“I love being on stage with Will; there is no greater joy in my life. He doesn’t come on until the end, so I’m a little tired, but when he comes on I get a second wind,” Infortuna said. 

One challenge that the comedy has brought to the cast is trying not to laugh at their own jokes or other characters’ lines while performing. 

“Ethan Overton plays a character named Bert Jefferson, and he has a drunk scene that took me about a week to get through without laughing,” Infortuna said. “On Monday, we ran the show, and Ethan did something different in that scene, and I lost it. I couldn’t keep it together.”

Fellow actor and sophomore Parth Patel appreciates working with the talented cast and has adapted well to the comedic theme. 

“We have to try to not laugh at certain parts now that it’s a comedy,” Patel said. “My favorite scene involves one of the main characters getting drunk and stumbling around the stage.”

Not only has the actual acting been different for a comedy, but Infortuna thinks learning his lines has been a different experience as well. 

 “I would say ‘Crucible’ was the hardest because it was the most flowery language, but ‘Miracle Worker’ and (‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’) have the same difficulty of the lines, I would say, because with certain jokes you need to make sure you have the exact wording,” Infortuna said. 

While Infortuna is proud of the play itself, he also commends the young cast of underclassmen for all of their hard work and talent. 

“It’s a really young cast. A lot of people haven’t even done the play before,” Infortuna said. “It’s an exceptional group of young people. The future of ’Stoga theater is very bright.”