Theatre Information

Thomas Edison High School The Man Who Came To Dinner

By • Dec 6th, 2012 • Category: Cappies, Virginia

As the curtains opened at Thomas Edison High School, the stage burst into movement. Characters bustled in and out, doors slammed, an angry man screamed from the wings, and the classic American farce, The Man Who Came To Dinner, was set into motion.

Set in Mesalia, Ohio in the 1930s, The Man Who Came To Dinner acts as a commentary on the growing cultural split between the coastal and central parts of the United States. Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, two members of the “Algonquin Round Table,” the show also models many of its characters after other famous members of the group. Sheridan Whiteside was based largely on Alexander Woollcott, Beverly Carlton is based on Nöel Coward, Banjo is based on Harpo Marx, and Lorraine Sheldon is modeled after Gertrude Lawrence.

The play begins with Sheridan Whiteside having fallen on the doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest W. Stanley. With a broken hip, he must remain immobile in his wheelchair. This, however, does not stop him from bossing around all that come near him. Soon enough, he has accumulated one octopus, four penguins, a cockroach farm, a mummy case, and garnered the hatred of his hosts. When it is revealed that he is not hurt after all, he decides to stay in Mesalia to keep his secretary from running off with a small town newspaper man. A comedy that unfolds wonderfully, Thomas Edison High School kept the audience laughing throughout the night with their rendition of this classic piece of American theater.

The show’s leading man Sheridan Whiteside (Nathan Vasquez) was strongly articulate and the antiquated language of the script was not lost in his long monologues or phone calls. He remained true to the 1930s speaking style that often accompanies the show. A standout of the night was Bert Jefferson (Matthew Kaufax). His easygoing nature and pleasantly pushy attitude made him a believable newspaper man and love interest. After staying out all night at a bar, his drunkenness was quite believable, and had the audience roaring. Another physicality that made the audience roar was Lorraine Sheldon’s (Parker Collins), as she fell to the ground and wailed that her cables had to be recalled. She portrayed a faithfully snobby, high-class actress. Harriet Stanley (Adrianna Watson), the estranged sister of Ernest Stanley was extraordinary. As she flitted on and off the stage with her sprite-like demeanor, it was clear that she had fully unlocked the potential of the fabulous writing of Hart and Kaufman.

The technical aspects of the play were superb. The set was highly detailed and sported real trim, molding, several doors, and a window seat. The set pieces were period appropriate, and the set also featured a working sconce and overhead lamp. Costumes were also detail oriented and highly extravagant. Details such as the matching wedding bands of the Mr. and Mrs. Stanley were lovely touches, and it was notable that for each different day, the characters had new costumes. One of the smallest yet most obvious examples of meticulous planning was the snow that could be seen falling through the window, and was seen on Jefferson’s jacket. It drew the audience farther into the world of the play.

A classic piece of theater was done justice at Thomas Edison High School, and their rendition made the audience feel “willing guests” at the production.

by Jeffrey Warren of Washington Lee High School

Photo Gallery

Kira Omans, Nathan Vasquez, Adrianna Watson Nathan Vasquez, Kira Omans
Kira Omans, Nathan Vasquez, Adrianna Watson
Nathan Vasquez, Kira Omans
Nathan Vasquez, Pedro Silva, Kira Omans Nathan Vasquez, Parker Collins, Matthew Kaufax, Kira Omans
Nathan Vasquez, Pedro Silva, Kira Omans
Nathan Vasquez, Parker Collins, Matthew Kaufax, Kira Omans

Photos by Bruce Wentzel

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