Monday, April 20, 2015

Charley's Aunt or ont...or awnt...or ant

Heart-A-Rama time - that means my reading has been reduced to Entertainment Weekly and the backs of cereal boxes.  Incidentally, those cereal boxes are worth taking a look at. Skip the nutritional info and move right on to the little quizzes, games and bits of trivia.

HAR did inspire me to re-read one of my favorite plays,  Charley's Aunt.  Of course, the play I could see and/or direct over and over is Harvey.  I love how kind Elwood is to everyone, even those who appear invisible.  His "It's our dreams that make us real" mantra is one I try to live by - always dreaming and scheming about the next project on my list.  

I've always wanted to direct Charley's Aunt, but the costume and set budget alone scare me.  Then there's matter of the word aunt.  Do we pronounce it ont? awunt?  or like that annoying little picnic pest - ant?   And, could I really find a male lead willing to wear the necessary corset for the bulk of the show? Structurally, this play is in three acts and that doesn't fly with modern audiences.  It is looooogh. To make myself happy, I used the plot as the basis for this year's HAR musical "Chuck Needs Money; Chuck Wants Romance; Chuck Gets Brand New Underpants".

The original plot revolves around Jack and Charley, private school  boys in love with Kitty and Amy and hoping for a bit of a weekend tryst.   However, when the expected chaperon for the boys' dates is delayed, they persuade a fellow student, Lord Fancourt Babberley, to don a stuffy aunt persona and fill that role.  All sorts of chaos ensues when Jack's father falls for the ersatz companion.  The chaperon, by the way, is from Brazil, "where the nuts come from" - my favorite line in the play.

This is a photo from the very funny movie version starring Jack Benny as Charley's Aunt.

Our HAR version does not stray far from the original and our twisted couple have been having all sorts of fun flirting and flouncing.  Of course we updated and our four students are a microcosm of today's kids - an  involved, annoying  activist, a disinterested punk, the popular girl, and the overly enthusiastic kid who tires but always misses the mark.  There's giggling, sarcasm and the most pitiful rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine" sung by our heartbroken lover.

A lot of people find reading plays awkward.  They miss the narrative elements providing details about setting and direct statements about characters moods' and motivations.  Plays give readers the opportunity to imagine those details as long as they are consistent with whatever hints the playwright provides for us.  I can read a play quickly, generally in one sitting.  That's a good thing at HAR time.  Now - gotta go - still deciding if I'm should torture my male lead with a corset.

Thanks for stopping by.

Steve - better get your cable reinstalled.  Tonight we're going to find out where Castle was when he went missing!