Opening Nite Theatre’s next production is the zany, over-the-top, slapstick comedy thriller Drop Dead! by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore.
Drop Dead is a farcical play-within-a play about a group of hopelessly inept actors, led by megalomaniac director Victor Le Pewe (Tony Loyer).
They attempt to mount a pot-boiler English-style murder mystery that’s loosely based on the “very high art work” of an eccentric, histrionic American playwright, Alabama Miller.
Opening night looms and everything that could possibly go wrong does. The sleazy producer, Piggy Banks (Brennan Jorger), is ready to rip the director apart. There are missed lines, missed cues, missing furniture, actors up-staging each other, egos running rampant and, worst of all, someone is messing around with his favourite ingénue and former porn star, Miss Candy Apples (Trudy-Bridgette Smith).
Amid the chaos, murders of the cast and crew that are not part of the script begin to happen for real. As the body count rises, the remaining thespians must save the show and their careers, solve the murder mystery and stay alive long enough for curtain calls.
Like the comedy Noises Off , Drop Dead! pokes fun at the backstage antics and sheer desperation of a show heading for disaster. What makes this production challenging for the real Opening Nite Theatre cast is that it goes against everything they’ve ever learned about acting on stage.
As Corena Gale, who plays Alabama, puts it “This (show) is not your typical murder mystery. The cast and crew on stage (within the play) are about the worst you could expect a community theatre play to be, all played expertly by some of the best community theatre actors you could hope to find. This play is a little twisted, a lot crazy, and literally a laugh a minute.”
Long time ONTS member Nate Drury, who plays pretentious method actor Brent Reynolds, added “attempting to embody a bad actor can be a challenge but often hilarious as you try to portray some of the standby clichés most associated with bad acting.”
What makes this show even funnier is that it features some theatre stereotypes. There’s Mona, the TV star with attitude (Karen Humpage), Chaz the blundering apprentice actor (Jordan Wood), and Philip the brow-beaten stage manager (Mark Humpage). Also cast in this show, and new to Opening Nite Theatre, is Brad Ward, who plays Dick Scorsese, Martin Scorsese’s cousin.
Opening Nite also welcomes newcomer Carole Field, who plays legendary and deaf stage star, Constance Crawford.
Drop Dead runs April 27 to May 13, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. (Thursdays May 3 and May 10 are 2 for 1 ticket sales).
Tickets are available at www.openingnitetheatre.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 604-826-6687 or at the door, 33223 Railway Avenue Mission (across from the West Coast Express Station). Tickets are $15.