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Mt. Pleasant Area High School prepares to stage 'Charley's Aunt'

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant Area High School students compose the cast of 'Charley's Aunt,' including (first row, from left) Garrett Woodmancy, 16; Ryley Anderson, 18; Anna Shawley, 17; and Joshua Kinneer, 15; (second row) Jake Dengler, 16; Alex Zigarovich, 17; Austin Omatick, 15; Layne Lueckert, 15; and Samantha Mertz, 17. The play will be performed at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the high school auditorium.

Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School students on Saturday will present “Charley's Aunt,” a 19th-century, three-act comedy by Brandon Thomas.

A cast of 10 students will perform the longest-running, classic farce in history, said Rich Bair, who is co-directing the production with Barb Rolla.

“Charley's Aunt” was first produced at the Royalty Theatre in London on Oct. 21, 1892, according to samuelfrench.com.

It premiered in New York City at the Standard Theatre on Oct. 2, 1894, according to the site.

It broke all historic records for plays of any kind, with an original London run of 1,466 performances.

The production was chosen, according to Bair, for its comedic nature that is suitable for all ages.

“Charley's Aunt” focuses on late 19th-century etiquette and proper behavior for ladies and gentlemen.

Two college students, portrayed by students Bruno Anys and Joshua Kinneer, devise a plan to meet their girlfriends with the aid of a chaperone.

However, the chaperone is not the person they intend.

Kinneer and Anna Shawley have both been in previous productions at the school, but this is their first time in lead roles.

Ryley Anderson will portray character Lord Fancourt Babberley.

He said it is the first time he has been part of a play that has given the actors more freedom to portray the characters through their own interpretations.

The most challenging issue for him has been adjusting to playing a woman, he added.

“It's been a totally different experience from any other character,” Anderson said. “I think that the comedy with the man in a dress might have some hooking power that will bring in the audience and keep them entertained through all three acts.”

Anderson said he feels that introducing a comedy such as “Charley's Aunt” will open the school and community to a more diverse selection of plays in the future. Bruno Anys will portray character Jack Chesney.

Anys said the role doesn't differentiate that much from the character of George Bailey, who he portrayed in the school's staging of “It's a Wonderful Life,” because he has to get into “an old-fashioned state of mind.”

However, those two characters differ widely in personality, he said.

“The best part of this performance, by far, is the slapstick comedy throughout this piece,” Anys said.

Bair said, “timing and delivery is everything in a comedy of this type and the students are putting their efforts into delivering for the audience.”

Both the actors and stage crew are pitching in as a team to keep things moving, Bair said.

Stage crew members, also under the direction of Bair, created swings for the set. It will be the first time swings have been used in a production at the school.

Bair said Rolla is “an inspiration for the students,” both as a great directing team member and a character actress.

“Charley's Aunt” will be performed at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the high school auditorium.

The price of admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or kvernon@tribweb.com.

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