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Theater

'The Play That Goes Wrong' promises raucous belly laughs

| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, 12:03 a.m.

Pittsburgh audiences will be the first to see the national touring production of Broadway’s Olivier and Tony Award-winning comedy, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” before it heads out on its yearlong mission to make people laugh across the United States and in Canada.

One of the show’s cast members, Peyton Crim from Dallas, Texas, says that won’t be a tough assignment at all because the show is just so funny.

“That’s why it’s run so long on Broadway. People really connect with it,” he says.

“The Play That Goes Wrong,” co-written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields of Mischief Theatre, opened at the Lyceum Theatre in New York on April 2, 2017, and was scheduled to close in August until its run was extended through Jan. 6, 2019. Its first stop of the tour — Sept. 18-23 at The Benedum Center — is part of the 2018-19 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Broadway Across America.

The play is about The Cornley University Drama Society’s determination to put on a 1920s murder mystery despite a barrage of mishaps that stall their attempts to make it to their final curtain call.

Crim plays Robert, a gent who fancies himself as a polished, Richard Burton-type of actor who is proud of himself and his craft.

“He doesn’t pay attention to what’s happening — like the sets collapsing around him — because he’s going to do his best, sometimes to his detriment,” the actor says.

Meanwhile, the audience is expecting the play to go off without a hitch, but everything that can go wrong, does.

There’s a lot of physical comedy in the show, according to Crim, that generates almost constant belly laughs from theatergoers, the likes of which he’s not seen before.

Mischief Theatre, led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer, was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and began as an improv comedy group. Producer Kevin McCollum says “The Play That Goes Wrong” will bring the company’s “unique brand of mayhem” to 28 cities in 42 weeks in the first year of a multiyear tour.

Local connection

Traveling with the tour will be actor Michael Thatcher from Lancaster, an understudy for Crim’s role and four others. He also understudied for the Broadway production and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Thatcher just might be checking out a Pirates or Steelers game while in Pittsburgh. The sports fan says he plans on seeing as many games and stadiums as possible while on the road.

Ticketholders can attend a free Know the Show Before You Go event at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave. Registration is required.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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