By MIKE CHAIKEN
Expect guffaws, gasps, and giggles because “A Game’s Afoot” at the Thomaston Opera House this weekend and next.
Southington’s Meghan Rickard plays Aggie, one of the colorful characters on stage in this comedy from playwright Ken Ludwig (best known for his farce, “Lend Me a Tenor”).
“I’ve never been in a show funnier than this,” said the 24-year-old actress. “It’s so fast-paced… You can’t get bored.”
And given the winter that Connecticut has experienced, Meghan said, “A Game’s Afoot” is a “great escape” for two hours from the New England doldrums.
“People want to be entertained,” said Rickard in a phone interview.
The plot centers around the character of William Gillette, a real historical figure who lived in Connecticut in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was renowned for his performances as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Press materials from the Thomaston Opera House explain the show is a “1930s-style whodunnit, with plenty of double-cross, gunplay, lies, deceit, and disguise… (Gillette) invites colorful characters to his eccentric Connecticut castle for the weekend. The festivities turn deadly when one of his guests ends up stabbed. Gillette must don his Holmes persona, sidestep danger, navigate his own secret passages and unmask the culprits.”
All sorts of silliness help infuse the play with its humor, explained Meghan.
For Meghan, one of the funniest characters in “A Game’s Afoot” is a British inspector.
Given that the show is set in Connecticut’s Gillette Castle, said Meghan, why is the character British? Why is she even in Connecticut?
The questions are never answered, said Meghan, but that’s part of the playwright’s humor.
For Meghan, the Connecticut setting of the show is one of the fun aspects of the production. She said she loves hearing references about places she knows such as Gillette Castle and the Connecticut River.
“It’s pretty cool,” she said.
As an aside, Meghan said, despite the Connecticut setting of “A Game’s Afoot,” she doesn’t think Ludwig’s creation has ever been performed in the Nutmeg state… until now.
As a performer, Meghan said she enjoys the fact the play is written as an ensemble piece. It’s not intended as a showcase of any one actor. “Everyone has such a big part.”
Additionally, the size of the ensemble—just a cast of eight—allows the actors to bond and help each other grow and improve during the course of rehearsals in preparation for the Feb. 15 opening night.
“It’s really fun,” said Meghan.
The show’s director Eric Wilczak also been a joy to work with, said Meghan. Although “A Game’s Afoot” is his second directing gig, said Meghan, “I’m impressed. He knows what he wants.”
However, said Meghan, the director is also open to suggestions from his actors. There have been times in the rehearsals, said Meghan, where cast members offered their ideas on how to approach a scene and Wilczak took those suggestions under consideration.
“A Game’s Afoot” is Meghan’s first venture with the Thomaston Opera House. But it’s not her first time on stage, by any means. She has performed with New Britain Repertory Theater and Cheshire Community Theater. She participated in Southington’s Summer Youth Theater program, eventually becoming an instructor. She also performed as a student at Southington High School, Kennedy Middle School, and Plantsville Elementary School.
As audiences ponder on whether they should come out to the Opera House this weekend to see “A Game’s Afoot,” Meghan said they should. She promised, “You’ll laugh the entire night.”
“A Game’s Afoot” opens Saturday, Feb. 15. The cast includes: David Macharelli as “William Gillette,” Jane Coughlin as “Martha Gillette,” Frank Beaudry as “Felix Geisel,” and Janice Connor as “Inspector Goring,” Morgan Morse as “Simon Bright,” Meghan Rickard as “Aggie Wheeler,” Shannon Sniffin as “Madge Geisel,” Nicole Thomas as “Daria Chase.”
Landmark Community Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s comedy, “A Game’s Afoot” will be performed Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 15-22 at 8 p.m. and Sundays, Feb. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $23.50 for adults and $19.50 for seniors and students. All seats are reserved.
For more information call or visit the box office, (860) 283-6250, Monday to Saturday 1 to 6 p.m., 158 Main St., Thomaston
By MIKE CHAIKEN