Wheaton Drama's "Black Comedy" to open March 23

Peter Shaffer of “Amadeus” and “Equus” fame shows a lighter side in his playful tribute to physical comedy and good laughs, “Black Comedy.”

The show, opening March 23 at Wheaton Drama's Playhouse 111, has the typical elements lovers of farce will enjoy, plus a clever gimmick. Set in a London apartment in 1965, “Black Comedy” plays with the concept of light and dark - literally. Hoping to impress important guests, struggling artist Brindsley Miller has “borrowed” furniture and antiques from a traveling neighbour. Brindsley decorates his apartment with the purloined items, but things go awry when his neighbour returns unexpectedly. A power cut at the apartment as his neighbour arrives allows Brindsley to escape detection, but it's not as simple as owning up and waiting for the lights to be restored. Instead, Brindsley must try to return the items in the dark while still attempting to entertain his planned, and unexpected, guests.

Directing the show for Wheaton Drama is Randall W. Knott of Montgomery. He is thrilled with the cast. “These actors have come in to their second rehearsals on a scene off-book, handled numerous absences without skipping a beat, and brought a lot of their own ideas to the roles (stunts) they are inhabiting. It has been a pleasure.”

The “Black Comedy” actors are: Jamie Barrett of Bartlett as Carol Melkett; Angelicque Cate of Elgin as Miss Furnival; Geoffrey Maher of Arlington Heights as Harold Gorringe; R.J. Ogren of Naperville as Schuppanzigh; Sean Ogren of Villa Park as Brindsley Miller; Tom Viskocil of Woodridge as Colonel Melkett; Leah Rae Witt of Hanover Park as Clea; Bruce Worthel of North Aurora as Georg Bamberger.

Mr. Knott is also pleased with the support on the show's technical side and he credits production manager Don Dumper (Carol Stream) with assembling the right staff. Mr. Knott notes, “I was especially fortunate to have Amy Johnson (Lombard) agree to be my Assistant Director and Stage Manager."

Additional production staff for the show are: Tracy Adams (hair and make-up); Ben Aylesworth (sculpture); Ken Beach (production photography); Traci A. Cidlik (graphic design); Craig Gustafson (Starboard design); Melissa Heischberg (website); Jo-Ann Ledger (publicity); Steven Merkel (sound and publicity photography); Carla Mutone (properties); R.J. Ogren (set design); Rebecca Poole (properties and tickets); Kate Quan (programme); Pam Terry (set decoration); Jim Van de Velde (lights); Gretchen Woodley (costumes).

With several weeks of rehearsal and the first weekend of set construction complete, “Black Comedy” is shaping up to be a show of which the cast and crew can be proud. As for audiences? The director says, “I can't wait to show this production off to the public. You'll want to come back. You'll miss something the first time."

Performances of “Black Comedy” are March 23 through April 15. No show Easter Sunday. Shows are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $13 for Thursdays and $16 Fridays-Sundays. “Black Comedy” is licensed by Samuel French, Inc.

Wheaton Drama's 2011-2012 season will conclude with the musical comedy, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" (5/25-6/17). The 2012-2013 season is set to include "The Heiress", "The Sound of Music", "Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure", "Full Circle", and "Into the Woods".

Wheaton Drama's productions are staged at Playhouse 111, 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton. For show tickets and information, please visit, or call 630-260-1820. Follow on Twitter at WDIPublicity.

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