What happens when a dinner guest extends his welcome? Danville Area Community College’s performing arts students will reveal the comedic results during their fall production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner.”
The college’s liberal arts division and the DACC Players will present the play at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23, in the Bremer Theater on DACC’s campus. A matinee for senior citizens is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21.
DACC instructor Glenda Boling, who co-directs the play with fellow DACC instructor Phillip Langley, said, “It’s a great play. It’s set in the 1940s in a town in Ohio.”
Langley said he always thought about the DACC Players performing “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” which also is a classic film from the 1940s starring Bette Davis.
“It’s set at Christmastime, and you can take the characters and really expand them,” he said.
Boling said, “It also plays into the notion of having the perfect Christmas that never really happens.”
The main character, Sheridan Whiteside, portrayed by Blake Berenz, is a famous radio personality who goes to dinner at the home of the Stanleys, a wealthy family.
As Whiteside leaves the home, however, he slips on their doorstep and breaks his hip. A tumultuous six weeks of confinement follow. The Stanley living room is monopolized by the irascible invalid; ex-convicts are invited to meals; and transatlantic calls bring a $784 phone bill.
The arrival of strange gifts from Whiteside’s friends – such as penguins in the library, an octopus in the cellar and 10,000 cockroaches in the kitchen – further destroys the domestic tranquility at the Stanleys.
“He falls and then he never leaves,” Boling said. “The people who surround him really make the play ... the characters that come to see him.
“Four characters are truly characters that bring a lot of comedy to the play,” she said.
Langley agreed that the characters are what make the play appealing to all ages. “Even though we don’t know a Hollywood starlet, I think there are characters we can relate to.
“We live with people who have big egos, and we can relate to how they react to those personalities,” he said.
When Whiteside’s secretary Maggie — portrayed by Brooke Kuchefski — falls in love with Bert Jefferson, the reporter — portrayed by Jacob Ault, Whiteside summons a glamorous actress, Lorraine, to win the affections of the young man. Knowing the girl’s charms, Maggie enlists the aid of a clever impersonator who, affecting the voice of Lord Bottomley, whom the actress — portrayed by Mandy McCool — hopes to marry, asks her by phone to return to him and be married.
The ruse almost works, but a suspicious Whiteside finds that no calls have come through from London. In revenge, Lorraine feigns great interest in a play Bert is working on and suggests she collaborate with him during three-week sojourn at Lake Placid.
The unexpected arrival of a mummy case, just as Whiteside is frantically seeking to get rid of Lorraine, gives him a malicious idea. Tricking Lorraine into stepping into the case, he shuts the lid and blackmails the Stanleys into having the case transported to the airport in preparation for a round-the-world cruise. Whiteside departs from the Stanleys’ home triumphantly, but a second later a crash is heard — he has slipped and fallen again.
McCool, a second-year student from Danville, has appeared in the last two DACC plays, “Stage Door” and “Hairspray.”
“I love it,” she said of portraying Lorraine the Hollywood starlet, as she wore a black sparkly gown she bought at Ross Dress for Less at the Village Mall. “I love this character. You pretty much can do anything. It’s so fun, and she’s very conniving when someone messes with her plans.”
Peyt York, a second-year student from Hoopeston, is making his acting debut as Dr. Bradley.
York describes his character as the “bumbling house doctor who looks after the main character, Mr. Whiteside.”
“I’ve always been interested in acting,” he said. “I like the action that goes with my character. It’s more buffoonish.”
First-year student Terry Wilson of Danville also is honing his acting chops with this play, but admits the experience has caused the acting bug to officially bite him.
“As a kid I watched a lot of movies and I could recite them, so I decided to take this challenge,” Wilson said.
Wilson not only won one part, but two in the play.
“I play two characters — a convict and a radio personality, Westcott,” he said. “The convict is a one-line thing, so it’s easy to do,” he said.
“I’m excited about doing this,” he added. “It’s my dream to major in theater.”
Boling said the cast consists of half new performers and half seasoned performers from previous DACC plays.
The following students are in the cast: Breely Arford, Courtney Godley, Drew Corbin, Stacy Draper, Nick Konieczki , Jyoti Sills, Kacie Waterman, Melissa McGuire, Zayne McCorkle, Brooke Kuchefski, Peyt York, Blake Berenz, Sheanice Fancher, Jacob Ault, Mandy McCool, Terry Wilson, Amini Edwards, Kalen McGowen, Seth McBride and Tyler Cox.
SHOW TIMES Performances of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" will be at 7 p.m. on both Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23, in the Bremer Theater at Danville Area Community College. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for students and will be sold at the door only. All tickets are for general seating. A senior citizens' matinee performance will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21. There will be no charge to seniors for this special performance, but a freewill donation will be collected. Lunch will be included with the matinee. Reservations for the senior matinee and lunch may be made with Suzanna Aguirre by e-mailing Aguirre at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 443-8724.