The Urbana High School Drama Department is making final preparations for their first play of the 2019-2020 school year, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” The show is a classic comedy written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, described by Director Stephen Ward as one that “focuses on quick-witted dialogue and a lot of witty repartee.” A great show for all ages, the comedy features a family’s wacky escapades as they try and adjust to life with a stranger who makes a sudden appearance in their home.
This play takes place in 1939 Mesalia, Ohio, where “a prominent radio critic by the name of Sheridan Whiteside falls and breaks his hip on the household doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley” and consequently “throws their house into an upheaval by … taking over the Stanleys’ household,” Ward explained. Shenanigans ensue, with strange guests coming in and out of the house and animals like penguins and cockroaches that contribute to throwing the house into complete and utter chaos.
Senior Tyler Crean, in the lead role of Whiteside, has enjoyed rehearsing. “It’s been great,” he said. “The people are just so wonderful, and the cast is amazing and so supportive. … Everyone’s just great.”
The department’s last two plays, “Happy Daze” and “Noises Off,” are quite a contrast to the older, more refined style that “The Man Who Came to Dinner” presents. Ward stressed the difficulties that come with taking on a classic show such as this, and said he has “waited a few years” to tackle this challenge. ”I felt like this was the year in which I had the opportunity, where I had the right group of kids to do a show like this,” he explained.
This is Ward’s fourth full year as director, but he’s been a part of the department since 2007. He was able to take over when the previous lead director, Mary Lennon, retired, and he continues to support and nourish his students’ love for acting.
“It was an easier transition because many of the students already knew who I was (since) I was a prominent figure in the department,” he said.
Ward is excited to present this show to the community. “It’s really, really funny,” he said.
The show includes special arrangement by Dramatists Play Service, a New York-based play-licensing and publishing agency that is highly renowned in the industry.
Performance dates are Nov. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 9 at 1 and 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and preorders are available on showtix4u.com. For more information, visit uhsdrama.org.