2016-11-04 / On The Town

Royal Drama Players embrace the screwball

Student cast presents ‘Oh, Promise Me!’
By Michael Aushenker


FUNNY PEOPLE—Above from left, Diego Martinez, Eric Fong, Madison Van Meter and Ashley Wiltshire take a break while building the set of “Oh, Promise Me!” At left are the cast and crew of the show, back row from left: Matthew MacKenzie, Angelica Pinongcos, Emily Ramirez, Martinez, Teresita Jimenez, Fong, Sophia Hernandez, Uday Khattar and Van Meter. Front row: Shelby Joice, Brielle Myers, Doriana Siguenza, Tristan Benedetto, Lucy Lupin and Wiltshire. FUNNY PEOPLE—Above from left, Diego Martinez, Eric Fong, Madison Van Meter and Ashley Wiltshire take a break while building the set of “Oh, Promise Me!” At left are the cast and crew of the show, back row from left: Matthew MacKenzie, Angelica Pinongcos, Emily Ramirez, Martinez, Teresita Jimenez, Fong, Sophia Hernandez, Uday Khattar and Van Meter. Front row: Shelby Joice, Brielle Myers, Doriana Siguenza, Tristan Benedetto, Lucy Lupin and Wiltshire. It will be one man, two women, a borrowed baby and lots of laughs when the Royal Drama Players present their latest production, “Oh, Promise Me!” beginning next week.

The comedy, to be mounted at Royal High School’s multipurpose room, unfolds in the style of classic 1930s screwball feature comedies like “It Happened One Night,” “Twentieth Century” and “The Awful Truth.”

Directed by senior Brielle Myers, this production of the 1939 Pete Williams play features a mostly female cast of 12.

“It’ s not one that’s done much,” Royal High School drama adviser Jerry Ursetti said of the relatively obscure three-act farce, which shares its title with an 1889 song.

This year marks Ursetti’s fifth as Royal’s drama adviser. He’s been at the high school since 2002, originally as music director.

Rehearsals are going great, he said, adding that this particular cast is getting along well.

The plot is pure chaos: Young Barry Hollis, played by Tristan Benedetto, has just graduated from Princeton and comes into the fortune left him in his late father’s will. A playboy, he has resolved to settle down and become a worthy community member.

However, on the train back from Princeton, Barry falls head over heels for Gladys Vance, played by Doriana Siguenza, and he persuades his aunt to send Gladys a note inviting her for a visit.

Another note goes out to his intended, old flame Patsie

Linden, played by Lucy Lupin, asking her to send back his frat pin as the marriage is off.

Faced with the threat of a lawsuit from Patsie for breach of promise, Barry figures he can’t marry if he already has a wife and family, so he enlists Ann Furber, played by Shelby Joice — the daughter of the butler, played by Uday Khattar — to pretend to be his wife and “borrows” a baby.

Now Barry is caught in a pickle, as he has to simultaneously convince Patsie that he is married and Gladys that he isn’t married. Complications and hilarity ensue.

“It’ll be a really fun experience,” Ursetti said. “The play is very family-friendly. There’s no drinking (like in many screwball comedies of that era). It’s very funny.”

Past Royal Drama Players productions have included “Footloose” in 2006, “The Wiz” in 2008 and “Pippin” in 2015.

Performances of “Oh, Promise Me!” are at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays Nov. 10 to 12 and 17 to 19 in the Royal High School multipurpose room. Tickets are $10 for reserved seating, $8 for general admission and $6 for seniors and students with ASB cards.

For advance tickets, call Royal’s Associated Student Body office at (805) 306-4875, ext. 2737.

The Nov. 11 Veterans Day performance will feature a special presentation of colors by Royal’s Air Force JROTC students. Veterans and families of active duty service personnel will be admitted free. Donations for nonprofit For The Troops will be collected.

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