TUPELO • It's a story of mischief, murder and mayhem.
It's opening night of the Cornley University Drama Society's newest production, “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” a 1920s murder-mystery, and things are going very bad very fast.
With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can't play dead and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), TCT is presenting it's opening show of its 52nd season with "The Play That Goes Wrong."
The production, written by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer, runs from Aug. 26 through Aug. 28 at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Tupelo.
The comedic play within a play opened on Broadway on April 2, 2017, with previews that started on March 9, 2017 at the Lyceum Theatre in Manhattan, New York City.
For theatre veteran Lisa Ross, who plays stage manager Annie, the production represents a different style of comedy than what she’s accustomed to performing. Overall, however, the experience has been a blast.
"This is my first time doing slapstick comedy," Ross said. "I have had fun doing things that look dangerous and painful. There have been a few injuries during rehearsals but not too serious. I've enjoyed playing my character."
Slapstick is fast-paced, she said, and very broad. It presents its own challenges.
“Remembering what you're suppose to do with facial expressions and gestures without having the script has been a bit challenging for me, but it's been fun,” she said.
Portraying Annie, who faces a host of fears throughout the runtime, has taught Ross a number of lessons about the importance of facing what bothers us. The actress hopes the character will teach the audience the same life lesson.
"You can see it on her face; not only does she face those fears, but she has fun doing it,“ Ross said. ”I think I'd want the audience to know that you can have fun in the midst of trouble times. I think that's an important trait to have, especially in this day and age."
Director Christi Houin said she found a lot of joy in rehearsing with former TCT production cast members, as well as some new members.
"Rehearsals have been going well,“ Houin said. "We've been working to get a few things in order. We have some cast members who've already done TCT productions before, and some who've just done TCT Off Broadway. They've been working very hard and having fun."
For Houin, directing productions for TCT is familiar work. “The Play That Goes Wrong” is her fifth production, and while each has it share of challenges, she's focused on ensuring cast members enjoy playing their characters.
"This set was a little more challenging but I've really enjoyed it,“ Houin said. ”Some of the most challenges parts has just been figuring out how we're going to pull off some scenes with resources we have. But the cast has had a lot of fun doing this and that's what's important to me."
So far, the cast and crew have come a long way. She has no doubt the audience is going to love what they see.
"Unless you've seen the show over and over again, there's always going to be something new that catches your attention,“ she said. ”I think for the people who are seeing it for the first time are in for a treat."
Houin said “The Play That Goes Wrong” will leave the stage in disarray and the audience will be thrilled.
"It is a story of an acting troop that is putting on a play and they have lots of problems," Houin said. "I would say lots of laughter and lots of surprises are in store for the audience."