By MIKE CHAIKEN
Starting Thursday, audiences can be transported to the Roaring 20s and the upper echelons of British society when Southington Community Theatre mounts its production of Noel Cowards sophisticated comedy, “Hay Fever.”
The show runs March 13 to 16 at Plantsville Congregational Church.
The Observer caught up with the show’s director/ producer Peter E. Pristic via email to talk about the theater group’s latest offering.
Observer: Noel Coward is known for portraying the erudite, sophisticated well-to-do members of English society. What do you like about this time period?
Peter E. Pristic: My interest in the 1920s actually began with what was happening in the 1920s here in America. I can pinpoint the exact moment that interest was piqued: I had a best friend in Michigan, Pauline Minor, that would tell me stories of her and her husband visiting every speakeasy between Detroit and Chicago and the fun they had, as she often said, “Back in the day.” She had a plethora of stories, too, about her “high society” friends and their parties. “The Gay 20s!” indeed. When I was researching a show to direct and “Hay Fever” came to my attention, the time period just struck a chord with me. I did some research on England in the 1920s and from a society perspective, it didn’t seem too different from the stories Pauline shared with me. I knew I had to do this show.
O: What do you like about Noel Coward’s writing and his style of comedy?
P: The attribute of Noel Coward’s writing I like the most would have to be his ability to portray honest characters. People are outrageous and dramatic in a variety of ways, whether good or bad. Noel is able to bring these aspects out in his characters in a manner that is true to the character’s spirit and form. This makes these characters real and believable.
O: Of the assorted works that Noel Coward is known for, what do you like best about “Hay Fever?”
P: What I like best about Hay Fever is it made me laugh out loud. Laughing is very important to me and I firmly believe a day without laughter is a day surely wasted. The dynamics between the Bliss family and their friends is comical and thoroughly entertaining. The drama, the hysterics, the absurdity of these people just makes me laugh.
O: How does it fit the talents of Southington Community Theater?
P: I do want to mention that I did NOT type cast anyone! [Laughing out loud] Casting for this show was incredibly difficult. I was beyond fortunate to have so many awesome and talented people audition. I lost a lot of sleep trying to cast this show. I believe that “Hay Fever” is a show of which most actors dream. There is depth to these characters that allow the actor to let loose and discover things about him/herself and be creative in expressing the character. This cast has done just that, just take a look at the actors playing the Bliss family: Simon, played by Brett Aiello; Sorrel, played by Carolyn Ciarrochi; Judith, played by Lori Holm; and David, played by Ed Rosenblatt. These individuals have embraced the crazy and have truly found unique ways to bring each character to life.
O: Every theater company likes to put their own twists on dramatic chestnuts like this. How have you gone about putting the SCT dramatic stamp on the production?
P: I think the stamp SCT has placed on this production to make it its own is in how this show was made. This show has come together so tightly due to the enormous contribution and an extremely collaborative effort amongst all the cast, the stage manager, and the producers. Collaboration in SCT’s productions, in my opinion, is one of the things SCT does well. It takes a community to build a community theatre; all efforts and contributions are needed to be successful.
O: Why do you think audiences will enjoy the SCT’s take on Noel Coward’s look at the upper crust of British society?
P: Audiences, I thoroughly hope, will enjoy SCT’s production of Noel Coward’s, “Hay Fever” because it is outlandishly and excruciatingly funny. This cast will pull you into the drama and make you laugh. It’ll be a great night of theatre.
Southington Community Theatre will present Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” March 13 to 16, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., at Plantsville Congregational Church, 109 Church St., Plantsville.
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, and are available at Just For You….Country Gifts, 979 Meriden-Waterbury Rd., Plantsville, The Music Shop, 405 Queen St., Southington.
“Hay Fever” stars Lori Holm, Edward Rosenblatt, Brett Aiello, Carolyn Ciarrochi, Jared Watterworth, Shane McNeal, Heidi Bass-Lamberto, Jyllian Perlini, and Amanda Savio Guay. It is directed by Peter E. Pristic and produced by Peter E. Pristic, Heidi Bass-Lamberto, and Amanda Savio Guay.
For more information, visit www.southingtoncommunitytheatre.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (860)543-3865.