Popular 'Westing Game' adapted for stage
When the lights dim at McKeesport Little Theater this weekend, the 1979 Newbery Medal-winning novel “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin will come to life.
The novel has become popular reading material in school for many students and that popularity has carried over to the stage.
“When I was going through school, this was not something I read,” director Mark Calla said. “Today, it's read a lot in school and is pretty popular.”
Mystery fans should enjoy the show, which is about Sam Westing's 16 heirs trying to decipher clues and determine how the self-made millionaire died. The winner will inherit his $200 million fortune and his company.
“It's a scenario where you have a group of people who have to look at each other in a different light,” Calla said. “In this story, they form a real bond and a lasting friendship.”
Unlike the book, he said, the play ends with the mystery being solved but does not tell what happens to the characters down the road.
“This is about a locked-room mystery,” he said of the show. “Before Westing dies, he manipulates all 16 heirs into taking a room in the same apartment complex and he pits them against each other.”
The focus of the show, Calla said, is a young girl named Turtle Wexler.
“It's really and truly her story,” he explains, “but you get pieces of all their stories throughout the show. More than anything, it's about her and the relationships she encounters along the way.”
The cast for “The Westing Game” is a mixed bag of experienced performers and newcomers to the stage. “There are some long, extended scenes with 14 people in a room together and that takes a lot of concentration and listening skills,” the director said, noting there are approximately five performers making their acting debuts. “The seasoned actors are an example for the newcomers because they can look up to them and watch them and learn and that is always a good thing.”
In the final rehearsals before opening night, Calla said Victoria Perl, who portrays Turtle, has proven herself on the stage. “It's rare to find a 13-year-old who gets up onstage and holds her own against adults. She is super smart and has such poise when she's out there with her peers.”
In recent years, Calla's presence at MLT has been onstage as a performer, being in recent productions of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”
He started acting in high school and that led to an interest in directing.
“For 10 years, all I wanted to do was direct, then a couple years ago I wanted to jump back into acting. Work was stressful and acting is a release for me. It's been about two years since I've directed,” the North Versailles Township resident said.
Reflecting on “The Westing Game,” Calla said one character learns a valuable lesson about what can happen when you have nothing but your work and lose touch with family.
“I hope people see the need to hold on to family and things that are important,” Calla said. “If you are a workaholic, it's never too late to get those things back into your life.”
Carol Waterloo Frazier is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1916, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Model train exhibit raises funds for McKeesport club
- Suspect in Glassport man’s shooting death put on house arrest
- After 27 years, Clairton emerges from state ‘financially distressed’ status
- Versailles plans smaller budget with no millage increase
- Elizabeth proposes big jump in small local services tax; councilwoman steps down
- Clairton City School District wins award for its anti-hunger efforts
- Elizabeth Forward school board takes out $6.55M loan as precaution
- Homestead man killed by train
- West Mifflin Area school official defends financial move criticized in state audit
- McKeesport lights up Kennedy Park at ‘City of Our Little Angels’
- Pedestrian from Pittsburgh killed in Duquesne crash