After a boisterous New York radio personality is stranded in the home of a small-town family, hilarity ensues as his big-city lifestyle takes over the house.
That’s the premise of “The Man Who Came for Dinner,” the fall production of the Hastings High School theater that starts Friday at 7:30 p.m. The show runs through the weekend with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Director Katie Funkey said the play is a theater classic set in the 1930s, but its comedic value holds true today.
Funkey said the play is a staple of high school theater, but she doesn’t believe it has been performed at Hastings High School in the past. The array of characters in the story makes the play suitable to a large cast.
“I picked it because I do think it’s genuinely funny,” she said. “There are so many interesting characters, and there are opportunities to get a lot of kids on stage. It gives the kids so much to work with.”
During a cross-country lecture tour, sharp-witted New York radio personality Sheridan Whiteside breaks his hip after he slips and falls on the icy steps of the Stanleys, a prominent Ohio family. Whiteside insists on recuperating in their home in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, but the overbearing, self-centered celebrity soon comes to dominate the lives of the residents and everyone else who enters the household.
Senior Tyson Pappas plays Whiteside and said one of the main struggles was in the sheer number of lines.
After generally being in a support role, Pappas said, it’s been a big change stepping into a role with more than 370 lines to memorize.
“It’s catharsis,” he said. “It’s just been a lot of fun.”
In addition to learning the lines, perfecting the delivery has been important, considering the era of the play.
“It’s always hard to take lines from another time and make them make sense for a modern audience,” Pappas said. “You have to get the right delivery for all sorts of wild stuff folks used to say.”
Sophomore Rebekah Evans portrays Harriet Stanley, one of the few denizens of the town to become friends with Whiteside.
Evans said she initially anticipated getting a small role, but finds her character woven through the tale. She said every character makes an impact in the story no matter how small the role.
“There are so many dynamic parts,” she said. “The costumes are amazing. I love the costumes because they are so wacky.”
Since fellow HHS students can attend the play for free, Evans recommended all come out to see the play.
Funkey said the play is recommended for children age 6 and older due to the two-hour running time and the story not being designed to keep the attention of young ones.
“I think this is a lighthearted comedy,” she said. “I feel people are looking for that after dealing with the pandemic. It’s set around Christmas time, so it’s also seasonal.”