‘Charley’s Aunt’ filled with laughter and fun
By John Villarose VI
For those who missed it, the final Lycoming College play of spring 2012 ran from April 11 through Saturday. The play was “Charley’s Aunt,” a comedy written by Brandon Thomas in 1892. The Lycoming College adaptation was directed by Professor Grechen Wingerter and was, as usual, free to any Lycoming students, staff or faculty.
“Charley’s Aunt” focuses on college friends Jack Chesney (Chase Mack) and Charley Wykeham (Taylor Anspach) who are in love with two young and occasionally naïve girls and desire to ask the girls to marry them.
The girls, Kitty Verdun (Krista Peterson) and Amy Spettigue (Sarah Beddingfield), are equally in love with the boys, though they are unwilling to meet with the boys without a chaperone. That’s where Charley’s Aunt Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez (Diane Robertson) comes in. However, due to a late arrival, they convince the disgruntled but easily swayed friend Fancourt Babberly (Nathan Bahn), who is also in love with a girl he knows only as Delahay (Taylor Granger), to take her place.
The mischievous, yet noble plan, is interrupted by Jack’s father Francis (Tom Robinson), Amy’s easily-angered Uncle Stephen (Jesse Shade), and Jack’s sarcastic valet Brassett (Tobias Anderson).
Though the acting was done well all around, some specific performances stood out.
Two of the stand-out actors were seniors Robinson and Shade, both portraying old bachelors with opposite personalities looking for love.
Robinson remained calm throughout with just a hint of humor with his voice, presenting a very believable maturity in his character. Shade on the other hand was far from it. He portrayed Stephen Spettigue with a hilarious sort of anger and foolishness, making great use of the large available space, presenting booming vocals, and providing much of the already-funny play’s comedy.
Yet, judging by the audience’s reactions alone, the favorite of the night seemed to be freshman Nathan Bahn, who played both Lord Fancourt Babberly and his alter-ego, the imposturous Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez. The play maintained running gags in which Mack and Anspach would unwillingly carry Bahn across the stage and Bahn would in return deceptively steal the affection of each of the boys’ desired partners.
Aside from the actors, a lot of credit goes to the designers of the stage. The set was large and magnificent. The play itself was three acts each running between half an hour to an hour, with ten-minute breaks in between. The set was drastically changed every time from particularly large and fancy bedroom, to the grounds outside the house, to a spacious main room. Such large changes left the design crew with a great challenge, but from the richness and extravagance visuals, it appears as though they succeeded.
Some of you may know that before control was given to Gretchen Wingerter, “Charley’s Aunt” was meant to be directed by the late professor and designer Jerry Allen’s play. After his tragic death earlier this semester, the cast and crew took it upon themselves to dedicate the play to him.
Though I unfortunately was only able to know Jerry Allen for a short period of time before his passing, he was still able to leave a powerful impact. For me, one of his most memorable aspects was his wondrous sense of humor and wit. From this alone, I can say that I believe Jerry Allen would have been proud to see what became of his play.
Though not perfect, this play was one of the most entertaining to be presented at Lycoming College this year. I would find it hard to believe that there was a single person in the audience who didn’t laugh or cheer at some point throughout the performance.
The writing was excellent, the acting easily did the play justice, and the set was astounding. The viewing of this production was certainly worth the dedicated two and a half hours filled with laughter and general fun.