I went to see the Sewickley Academy Senior School fall play, Around the World in 80 Days, written by Mark Brown and directed by Joe Jackson, in the Gregg Family Theatre. I enjoyed watching this play because I’ve never seen or read Around the World in 80 Days and it had its funny moments and its serious moments. Both of which were flawlessly executed by the show’s cast.
The cast included: Connery Brown as John Sullivan, Sir Francis, and the ship clerk; Alexandra Cordle as James Forster, British consul, director of police, elephant owner, and procter; Ryen Harrison as the priest, Mudge, and Reverend Wilson’s servant; Ibrahim Khan as Passepartout; Spencer Krysinski as Andrew Stuart, Detective Fix, and the Indian conductor; Ian Schneider as the newspaperman, priest, Judge Obadiah, U.S. conductor, and Speedy; Lena Sharara as Aouda; Luke Tyson as Phileas Fogg; and Avani Venkat as Gauthier Ralph, priest, young Parsi, Oysterpuff, Chinese broker, waiter, train engineer, ship engineer, and the train clerk.
This small cast of only nine actors and actresses did everything they could to make the scenes look as realistic as possible. The lead character Phileas Fogg (Luke Tyson) sustained the same dialect and calm but clever attitude the entire performance. In fact, all characters sustained their dialects throughout the show. My personal favorite actor was Spencer Krysinski as Detective Fix. He showed enthusiasm throughout the whole show as his characters, and he displayed all elements of a great actor which include facial expression, body language, the right attitude, and confidence in his role.
The blocking for this show was limited due to the size of Gregg Family Theater. Yet, the cast was able to tell the story very clearly through their actions on stage. Each and every character projected his or her voice, and I could clearly hear what they were saying. This performance included "breaking the fourth wall." This occurred when the performer would tell his or her thoughts in the moment to the audience. The exaggerations that the performers used made the story much more detailed and understandable, like when they bounced up and down on the train and swayed in the storm on the boat.
The physical production was matched perfectly to the time period. Examples of this include the wigs in the courtroom, monocles, top hats, and the detective costume with the deerstalker hat. Each set included the country's culture that they were visiting. The props for this show included wigs, chairs, tables, desks, a piano, and more.
The lighting for this production was hard to accomplish considering that the stage was only three feet away from the audience. So they had to dim the lights on stage and not light the audience. The Gregg Theater is a black box theater and the audience was seated on risers, looking at a downward angle. The cast was not so fortunate with the amount of backstage space they had to work with; it was only two to three feet and a little more in the corner of the room. The backstage helpers included Joe Jackson (director), Catherine Cable (assistant director), Nate Bell (technical director), Luke Miller (stage manager), Ella Sanfilippo (light board operator), Alisha Mattson (media operator), Omar Malik (properties master), and the run crew of Grace Armutat, Anthony Ditano, Aidan Rasmussen, and John Shilingsburg.
I thought that the show was well put together from my personal point of view and I could tell from the comments that I heard from everyone around me that they agree. I wasn’t able to identify myself as one character because of the time period and places that they were in, but I would definitely recommend this production. In my opinion, this production flowed together due to the way the blocking was set up to work with the lines and the small details that the actors added to get a more realistic outcome. I really enjoyed seeing this play by the Senior School and I hope to see another by this same talented cast in the future.