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Chantilly High School The Man Who Came to Dinner

By • May 2nd, 2007 • Category: Cappies

Ever wonder if anyone suffers as you do from the gross inadequacies of the human race? The answer would be The Man Who Came to Dinner staged by Chantilly High School on April 28th.

Invited to dinner in remote Mesalia, Ohio, bombastic radio wit Sheridan Whiteside slips on his hosts’ icy doorstep, confining him to a wheelchair in their home for two weeks. Impetuous as he is, the celebrity demands the entire foyer for himself and runs up a phone bill of $700 calling London, frightening the family out of kicking him out. Arrogance, hilarity, backstabbing and reconciliation are all found in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1930’s farce.

One could have paid $7 or $70 to see Jake Ashey – his performance as Sheridan Whiteside was just that professional. Flawless diction, sour-faced expressions and age-appropriate gesticulation all combined to convey a skill for characterization far beyond his 16 years. When belting witty insults or building tension with outcries of head pain, Ashey’s Whiteside seemed the planet around which the entire ensemble revolved.

This solar system of a cast exploded with talent in supporting roles. Secretary Maggie (Courtney Siegert) was a curt match of wit for Whiteside, deftly directing the mood of her scenes from humorous to seriously emotional. Clare Bonner crafted hysterical idiosyncrasies for the pathetic Dr. Bradley, littering her lines with senile stutters while nervously petting herself to keep calm. Miss Preen (Emily Withers) brought comedy in repetition with her squeals of protest to Whiteside’s abuse. Chloe West was also a delightful deviant as Lorraine Sheldon, her accent and pitch flopping all over the place in keeping with her affected Hollywood character. Playing her theatrical rival Beverly Carlton, Ryan Dalusung‘s uproarious impersonation of Lorraine’s lover was a highlight of the show.

Kendra McCullough and Leanne Williams outdid themselves in costuming. The luxuriousness of fabrics used – a parade of brocade and lace – made the characters look downright couture. Lorraine, in particular, stunned from her entrance in a swirl of glitter. Tailoring to fit actors’ shapes as well as their characters’ was terribly precise; Lorraine’s dresses were form-fitted while Dr. Bradley’s blouse hung off her trembling frame, enhancing her image of a spindly neurotic. Although actors were skilled in their expression, the illusion of age couldn’t have been entirely pulled off without their makeup crew. Whiteside and Bradley looked shockingly much the 50s-60s range.

Laura Kim, Wes Vitale and Ben Pardo‘s home interior set design was superb, aptly decorated and lined with French doors perfect for comedic slamming. However, whenever the front door was opened it always appeared to be dark out, no matter what time of day the dialogue indicated it was. Memorable props included a jar of foot jelly that bent when dropped, and a crate full of giant, chirping penguins.

Tumbling in and out of doors and eventually all over each other for the grand finale, Chantilly High’s cast epitomized their incredible talent for rhythm, timing, and ensemble cohesion in this excellent production.

by Juliana Hardesty of George Mason.

This review was written by a Cappies high school critic. The Cappies were founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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