Opening Knight Players bring one-act on road

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington - posted Fri., Mar. 8, 2013
(L-r) Sapna Raghavan, Joshua Feldman, John Macintosh and Erin Schirra rehearse a scene from 'Skinflints and Scoundrels' in which they try to fool Harpagon. Photos by Steve Smith.
(L-r) Sapna Raghavan, Joshua Feldman, John Macintosh and Erin Schirra rehearse a scene from 'Skinflints and Scoundrels' in which they try to fool Harpagon. Photos by Steve Smith.

Ellington High School's Opening Knight Players are getting ready to take their next show on the road. The OKP are once again taking their winter production – this time the one-act "Skinflints and Scoundrels" - to the Connecticut Drama Association's Connecticut Drama Festival in Old Saybrook on March 15 and 16.

The play is adapted and arranged by Suzan Zeder from "The Miser" by Molière, and centers on an acting troupe, led by Molière, set to entertain King Louis XIV at the Palace of Versailles. It includes a play-within-a-play and many multiple roles for actors.

Assistant director Maggie Quinn said the play (within the play) is about “the king, the funny characters and their love triangles." “He keeps worrying about his money and his jewels,” she said. “He keeps thinking someone has stolen it.”

Joshua Feldman, who plays La Grange/Cleante, said the show is funny and light-hearted, with a lot of great moments of physical comedy, but the production is bittersweet for the seniors in the group, as it is their last trip to the CDA Festival. Another challenge is creating the feel of 1600s Europe.

“We had to work on how characters in that day walked versus how we walk today,” he said, “and things like the curtsy when the king walks in. It's very different.”

Senior Thomas Sack plays the lead role of Molière, who in turn plays the miser Harpagaon. He said Molière gets rooked out of his money for his performance, but gets his troupe to perform an improvised show for the king, because he wants to be taken seriously as an artist.

“Molière just wants to be paid,” Sack said. “It's all about the appreciation of the artist and the arts. He wants to get across that he's not just some person to be pushed around. He wants to be appreciated.”

Sack, in only his second year with the drama club, said he's feeling a little stressed about the CDA. “Considering that I've never acted before in the festival, yes, I'm a little stressed,” he said, adding that he's relying on the support of his fellow actors and director/advisor William Prenetta.

Another new venture for the OKP is their first-ever self-created panoramic backdrop. The group enlisted the advice of experts, but the project was then in the hands of set designer, senior Keri Halloran.

“We had to buy this huge canvass,” Halloran said. “We had to prime it, and then cut it. It takes super-long to dry and you have to go under it with bamboo sticks. It's a weird process. We had to do layer upon layer upon layer of paint.”

The 36-foot by 10-foot canvass depicts the hall of mirrors at Versailles, and fits in well with the smaller set pieces, all of which must be transported to Old Saybrook and set up within 15 minutes, in accordance with the festival competition rules. “We'll be rehearsing the entire show from when we set up the set until we take it off,” Halloran said. “We have five minutes to take it off. It has to be all flowing and neat.”

"Skinflints and Scoundrels" will be performed just once at Ellington High School, on Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m. The cast said they hope people will come and watch, as they will not be disappointed.

“It's very funny, and very different from what we've done,” Feldman said. “It has classical elements of acting, but it's easier to comprehend.”

“It's an interesting concept of the play-within-a-play,” Sack said. “It's a good time, and people should come see what we're taking to the competition. Who doesn't love a good piece of theatre?”

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