Dinner, a Show… and a Murder

Theatre Reflects on Production of ‘The Game’s Afoot’

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Photo courtesy of Arav Neroth

Pointing Fingers, junior Kira Griffin and senior Brady Allen argue on who the real killer is in the theatre department’s production of “A Games Afoot.” Their annual dinner show was held on Nov 11 and 13 and invited audience members to enjoy a dinner and a show filled with mystery and murder. “The show was good we sold out both nights,” Allen said. “It was weird process just because we had so much going on in the month of November and some people were very new to the process but as the upperclassmen kind of guided a few people we were able to get back on track and the show turned out really well.”

Isa Morgan, Reporter

Even between balancing a haunted house, competitions and preparations for a spring musical, students still made time for two nights of mystery and murder. Alongside their normal stage performances, the theatre department hosted their annual dinner theatre show as a new and different way to experience their productions.

This year the department put on “The Game’s Afoot,” a story following William Gillette, played by senior Aidan Johnson, as he invites his cast-mates to his home to celebrate Christmas as he recovers from an attempt on his own life. The production was held on the cafeteria stage on Nov 11 and 13 and was performed while audience members were served dinner. Unlike their usual productions, this show didn’t have any musical numbers, and instead was performed as a straight play, which for some was not only a change of scenery but also a first-time experience

“It was actually really fun and we had a really good turn out and we sold out both nights which was really awesome,” Johnson said. “It was honestly really fun because we don’t really do straight plays that much, we usually do musicals. I had never really done a normal play ever. You can really focus on acting. You don’t have to worry about music and stuff like that and people are going to naturally enjoy it more because they have food.”

The show was set as more of a comedy, which is a change from their normal dramas they perform. According to junior Kira Griffin, who played Madge Geisel, the change of tone was helpful when it came to liberties the cast had.

“We definitely did have a lot of acting freedom because of all the shows we’re doing this year this is probably the funniest,” Griffin said. “We have a couple of dramas, but the other [shows] are more just like entertaining shows, but not necessarily comedy. So it was really nice to do comedy because we have a lot more creative freedom, blocking freedom and interacting freedom then we might with a drama or entertainment with a musical.”

Due to the show’s smaller size, there was a shorter amount of preparation time for the final production. In order to ensure the department could meet their deadline in time, students had to make sure their rehearsal times were spent well. Finishing blocking the show early on and making sure the cast knew their lines was a helpful factor, according to Johnson, but the real struggle was when it came down to how physically demanding the show actually was.

“The biggest thing for this show was tech,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of elements that we had to make sure were right and a lot of things we had to make sure were set, because killing people on stage is not easy. It’s a very complicated process especially when you have as low of a budget as we do like you really have to find ways to find loopholes. You just have to find ways to make sure that everything you need for that is in the right place. Your props need to be in the right place backstage when you grab them and when you’re doing transitions and specifics like that.”

Since the play called for so much physicality, it was important for the cast to be comfortable with each other. Fortunately for many of the students, some already had a close connection with each other from being in the program for a while. But for underclassmen who haven’t been involved in the department for as long and who aren’t as close with the upperclassmen, this show acted as a way for them to get involved and get closer with their peers, according to senior Brady Allen, who played Simon Bright.

“I think it’s a really good way to see the upperclassmen working in a less stressful environment and to kind of get close,” Allen said. “There’s a lot less people in this show than our bigger productions so you can get close. I know I got a lot closer with a few of the underclassmen and I think that was really good because, a lot of the time, they look up to us [upperclassmen] and I don’t want to have that barrier between seniors and underclassmen. So I think it’s good to just kind of work together and be friends instead of having a really tense community”

The experience proved especially motivating to get more involved for freshman Sasha Rutledge, who played Daria Chase and was one of the two freshmen on cast. Since being so new to the department, Rutledge said she wanted to prove that she deserved to be on the cast just as much as her upperclassmen counterparts.

“It was really nerve-wracking but also really fun,” Rutledge said. “The fact I was working with upperclassmen wasn’t as nerve-wracking, I was just nervous that as a freshman if I messed up, then I wouldn’t get another play, so I really wanted to do well and show that I could be in another play in order to continue my career here. Since seventh grade, I’ve always wanted to do theatre stuff and I’ve always known I wanted to do it forever, but this definitely actually getting a part was actually inspiring. I didn’t think I was going to get a part. When I first auditioned, they said there weren’t going to be callbacks so I assumed I didn’t get a part, so I didn’t look at the cast list and then like five people texted me congratulations, but it was really cool that I got in the play.”

Now that the production has closed its curtains, the department is now focusing on their busiest time of the year. With “Big Fish” rehearsals starting, Thespian convention competitions, UIL around the corner and other demands for different extracurriculars, students are making sure to manage their time in order to ensure they are performing their best for every production. For some, this looks like deleting all social media, taking extended breaks from their jobs or even dedicating their free time to focus on theatre.

“It was very stressful because in choir we had region and it was all happening at the same time,” Johnson said. “It was just a matter of making sure you’re staying on top of what you need to do, because what happens is that you don’t stay on top of things and then they get swamped. if you just try to get everything done that you know you have to get done as fast as you can to just get it out of the way, then it hopefully works out.”

Currently, the department is working on getting on track for adding more “Big Fish” rehearsals to their schedules and looking forward to UIL auditions for their productions of “Children’s Hour” in December, after their return from the Thespian competitions in Dallas. For tickets for future productions or any updates on what the department has planned next, visit the Cedar Park Theatre Instagram @cphstheatredept or their booster club website.