NUHS presents The Man Who Came to Dinner
The classic stage comedy about a guest overstaying his welcome
Did you ever have a house guest who just wouldn’t leave?
New Ulm Public High School’s spring play, “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” is a classic stage comedy about a guest overstaying his welcome, pushed to the extreme.
The high school will be holding performances at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31st and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 1st. Tickets are $7 for adults; $5 for students.
The play was written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. It was first performed in 1939 and is set in the late ’30s in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
In the story, New York City radio personality Sheridan “Sherry” Whiteside (played here by Nick Vigil) is invited to dine at the home of Ernest W. Stanley (played by Joey Kotton) but is injuried upon arriving at the house.
Whiteside is forced to stay at the Stanley home until he recovers, bringing along a host of medical professionals and his loyal secretary Maggie Cutler (Alex Groebner). He drives Mr. Stanley mad with insults and demands that put a strain on the household.
Meanwhile, Stanley’s children June (Carly Wenniager), Richard (Hunter Dauer) and his sister Harriet (Bronwyn Schlagel) become friends with Whiteside. A well-known celebrity, Whiteside soon begins inviting other strange guests to the Stanley home, creating a series of hijinx and drama.
This might be the first time NUHS has performed “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” At the very least, it has not been performed at the school in recent memory.
The production features a cast of nearly 30 characters with another 23 working behind the scenes as a production crew. NUHS began production the first week of February.
A unique aspect of this production is the director. High school senior Josie Ringhofer has taken over as director. This is the first time the school has used a student director for the spring play.
The decision to have a student director was in part for practicality. The regular school director is out on maternity leave. The school decided to offer directing duties to a student. Following an interview process, Ringhofer was chosen to lead the production.
Choral Director Dan Olson is serving as staff supervisor on the show, but gave assurances that Ringhofer was the director and all creative choices came down to her. The arrangement has worked well. During rehearsal, the cast and crew have readily taken their cues from Ringhofer.
Ringhofer was thankful for the production’s support and was excited to have the opportunity to direct a play after appearing in past productions. Last fall, she appeared in the school’s musical production of “Addams Family, playing Morticia.
Ringhofer said one odd coincidence between “Addams Family” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner” are that both are based on source material written in the late 1930s. This allowed the production to recycle a few props and costumes. It also meant the cast and crew would need a crash course in the ’30s era references and props.
During read-throughs, the production got familiar with ’30s-era slang and other pop culture references. It is important the cast understand the jokes in order to deliver them.
Ringhofer said the greatest challenge with the production is getting pacing down. Since the play is a comedy, timing is everything.
“We don’t want anyone stepping on the jokes,” Ringhofer said.
Another struggle with the particular product is the demand for the cast. Ringhofer said the play is demanding on actors. It is a dialogue-heavy show and some actors are on stage for long stretches of time. Actor Nick Vigil as Sheridan Whiteside is featured in most scenes and the story revolves around his character.
Fortunately, Vigil has a wealth of acting experience. Ringhofer said he recently played Gomez in the school’s Addams Family and praised his portrayal of Whiteside.
In terms of stage production, the show benefits from a well-built set that effectively creates the inside of the Stanley home. The set was designed by middle school science teacher Kevin Maudal. He was able to make the set feel like a home.
New Ulm High School’s production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” promises to be a great show that audiences never want to leave.