Dinner date: Drama club puts comedy center stage

Photo Kristin Schultz
Niskayuna High School students rehearse for the upcoming drama club comedy production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner."Photo Kristin Schultz Niskayuna High School students rehearse for the upcoming drama club comedy production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner."

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

On the heels of a highly dramatic spring musical production, students at Niskayuna High School are set to take the stage again as the drama club presents “The Man Who Came to Dinner.”

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Senior co-directors Jad Jacob and Lucy Skrebutenas considered many factors when choosing the play.

“We wanted to provide the opportunity for more people to get involved,” said Jacob.

“Last year we did a drama and wanted to do a comedy this year,” said Skrebutenas.

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” fits the bill on both accounts. There are 18 actors playing a total of 23 roles in the production. With additional characters come additional costumes. The play requires more than 50 costumes over the course of its three acts.

As rehearsal on April 11 began, Jacob sat on the stage going over housekeeping issues like costume and prop needs and publicity plans. Just outside the theater doors, two students applied coats of gold paint to a key prop — a sarcophagus.

But work on the production began long before auditions. Drama club members chose the work over the summer and stage manager Nick Forero got right to work designing the set.

“I wanted the set ready for auditions,” he said. “We held those auditions literally a day after we did strike for ‘Phantom.’ ”

The school’s music department put on a production of “Phantom of the Opera” in March.

Many of the students participate in both the spring musical and the spring play. Jacob played the Phantom in the elaborate production while Skrebutenas was the student director of the musical.

Now the directors have turned their attention to a comedy fueled by eccentric characters and unexpected events leading to a touch of chaos.

A celebrity radio personality, Sheridan Whiteside, visits a small town in Ohio on a tour. Much to the surprise of local residents, the Stanleys, Whiteside accepts an invitation to dinner.

Whiteside arrives at the Stanley home, where he slips on the ice and injures himself such that he cannot travel and moves right into the family home. He proceeds to demand control of the house and upends the family’s life.

Among his antics are bringing penguins into the house and inviting a band of parolees to lunch.

When events start to go sideways for Whiteside, he must employ his connections, personality and that sarcophagus to save the day.

The cast and crew are made up of theater veterans and newbies alike, aiming to put on a quality production.

“The play will be successful if people still think about it after they see it, and if it inspires people to do something or explore other arts,” said Jacob.

Regina Maley and Brian O’Connor are the staff advisers to the drama club.

Performance schedule

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” will be performed in The Little Theater May 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. and May 6 at 2 and 7 p.m. Admission for adults is $10 and students and seniors are $9.