Sick of the stir-craze that comes with having foot after foot of snow dumped on you? Need a laugh after pulling your back from shoveling the car out? Have you gone through just about everything on Netflix yet? The Barrington Community Theatre (BCT) has four shows coming up as part of their winter session geared to make you laugh.
BCT works around the schedules of students ranging from eight years old through high school, giving them the opportunity to rehearse during evenings and participate in on-stage productions. BCT and it’s counterpart the Barrington Enrichment Summer Theater allows students to be involved in theater year-round and have produced hundreds of shows since 2002. They pride themselves on being a nurturing environment as young actors of all skill levels come together to learn and grow. Performers are cast in both lead and supporting roles, in order to experience and appreciate all parts of the theater experience. The winter session culminates in four productions to be held on March 13 and 14.
The NSA’s Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing People tells the story of the new kid in school using NSA techniques (like wire-tapping and data mining) to gain an edge on the rest of the student body. While the play’s title might conjure 1984-esque thoughts, director Kelly McCabe says that NSA tackles the subject in a more lighthearted way. “While it has those moments that make you think 1984, it is very much a comedy; even those 1984 moments are mostly tongue in cheek,” she says. “The whole thing is very silly and over the top – there is little risk of mistaking this show for something heavy and serious.”
The idea of using technology to get over on our classmates is a fantasy anyone can indulge in. “I related to the theme overall, especially with the technology, but the dialogue has some amazing moments,” Kelly says. “I was laughing aloud as I read through it and I knew we needed to do it. It is brilliantly written (we are big fans of playwright Don Zolidis – we do a lot of his shows) and hilarious. ”
Kelly is equally excited to see her protege, Jacob Whitman, direct Going to School (“this is Jacob’s first time directing - he is doing a fantastic job so far”), which tells the story of college freshman Nick’s family loading up in the car and taking him to his first day of school. Remember fighting with your parents over the choice of radio stations? Remember your brother farting and then laughing so hard about it he turned red (Christ, I do). Or the older family member who just complained about everything? All the nuances of the family trip will come back to you in Going to School.
“What makes a show like this funny are the zany events that bring us to the destination (National Lampoon comes to mind),” Nick says. “If nothing happened on the way there, then what’s the reward for making it there in the first place?” The close-knit vibe of BCT made casting a production based around family characters easier for Jacob, saying “BCT is as much a family as it is a theater program, so everyone has a little bit of that chemistry going on between us. So when I chose the cast for the family, that chemistry wasn’t quite as important to me, since it’s already there.”
Continuing the college theme, 13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview begins as two college recruiters needing to fill one last slot to keep their jobs, and becomes a series of 13 interviews with, among others, a reality TV star and a vampire. The actors get a chance to show what they can do by portraying several of these over-the-top characters. “I am most excited to see the actors play their contrasting roles,” Director Charlene Pratt says. “I gave each actor at least two roles and they are all very different. I am excited to see the actors show their diversity. ” Scenarios like a vampire interviewing for college are obviously meant to be comedic, but there are things we can identify with. Charlene shares: “One character gets sick during the interview – this has happened to me. Just throw up in the bathroom before the interview, not on the interviewer’s desk. ”
The fourth in this quartet of winter sessions takes us back in time to 1986, when spandex and Aqua Net ruled the universe. A mom and dad recount their courtship in That’s Not How I Remember It, and as the title implies, the kids are given two different accounts of how it happened. The ‘80s are a popular time for our generation to revisit, and directors Alexandra Ray and Page Baldwin say the actors will be given the opportunity to reproduce that bygone era of big shoulder pads and New Wave. “To try to emulate 1986 we will mostly utilize costuming and characterization to represent each character. BCT chooses to use costumes more than set design or props to create the setting. The actors are therefore challenged to make their characters reflective of the decade and we know that they will rise to the occasion.”
At the heart of any good story is just that: the story. Alexandra and Page chose That’s Not How I Remember It not just for the ‘80s nostalgia, but because the subject matter holds up. “The parents’ relationship is definitely the central plot point of the play. I’m sure some of the adults in the audience will appreciate how we incorporated parts of the ‘80s into it, but the parents’ disagreement over the true facts is definitely more of a plot point in the story, regardless of what decade it was in. ”
Barrington Community Theatre
The NSA’s Guide to Winning Friends and Influencing People and Going to School
13 Ways to Screw Up Your College Interview and That’s Not How I Remember It
All productions will be held at the Barrington Public Library
281 County Road, Barrington