The Stars Who Came to Play
Who would not want a celebrity house guest?
The Stanley family thinks they are in for a real treat when radio personality Sheridan Whiteside comes to their house, but they soon realize the terrible mistake they have made. Park Hill High School will come to regret inviting The Man Who Came to Dinner.
In this comedy, Mr. Whiteside slips on a patch of ice outside after the meal, breaking his hip, confining him to the Stanley’s home in a wheelchair. During his stay, he takes over the place, banishing the family upstairs and receiving a never-ending stream of phone calls and gifts from around the world. His secretary, Maggie, falls for a local newspaper writer, Jefferson, and decides she will leave Whiteside to be Jefferson’s wife. Whiteside does not like this, and arranges for his friend Lorraine to come and seduce Jefferson so he can have Maggie all to himself. It is up to Maggie to protect her love from the advances of Lorraine and appease Mr. Stanley, who cannot wait until they all leave.
Dalton Dishman leads as Sheridan Whiteside. Dishman has a lively face and refined gestures that show he is perfectly full of himself and content with his place on top of the world. He is highly reactive, and can dish out insults and sarcasm that bite. Expertly operating his wheelchair throughout, Dishman proves himself an aloof playboy who turns absolutely vicious when he does not get his way.
Courtney Klein stars as Maggie, Whiteside’s secretary. Klein has a delightful voice and can be both a fool for love and assertive and self-confident. Her face is a window into the character’s heart, showing glee, guilt and defeat. With her talent for expressiveness, Klein is a highlight of the show.
Deanna Eberhart plays Lorraine; whisking on stage with the air of someone who has lived a charmed life. Eberhart is stuck-up and cocky, and loves giving backhanded compliments with the whine of an arrogant millionaire. Although she carries herself like she runs the world, when she loses her temper it is explosive.
Eleanor Panico plays Harriet Stanley, and is one of the funniest parts of the show. She slinks down the stairs to sneak up to her beloved Whiteside. With a wistful voice, she tries to win him over with gifts and shuffles off stage when she is done with him, but not before she catches one last intense glance at the man in the wheelchair.
The lighting and sound cues are incredibly responsive to the action onstage. Dalton Dishman and Caytie Conner design the light to be brought up right as a maid flips a switch, and Isaak Winkie and Emily Hardy, (sound) stop a telephone ring precisely when a character picks it up. Kaz Brandt and Ashley Gilland selected and designed magnificent props. The wheelchair, so central to the story, is charming and fits the period. They show equal prowess with monumental props, such as the gigantic mummy case with a scandalous inscription inside, as with small ones, like a sprig of holly given as a gift that looks incredibly realistic.
Some of the makeup is a bit overdrawn; large streaks standing out against the actors’ skin. However, the hairstyling is beautiful. Each of the ladies has a unique look, and the graying of older characters’ hair looks believable.
Park Hill High School is full of diverse talents in The Man Who Came to Dinner, with many students both acting, and creating extraordinary technical pieces. This range of skills shows them to be great entertainers and stars who came to play.
Review written by Andrew Fallman of Oak Grove High School. The Cappies trains a team of student critics from each high school how to write theatrical critiques each fall. Then they send the critics to each other’s schools to watch their shows and write reviews about them. The best written reviews are selected for publication each week in the local press.
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