Romantic comedy opens this week at ALHS

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, April 24, 2010

A romantic comedy takes the Albert Lea High School auditorium stage this week.

Student actors will present “The Movie Game” by Adam Hummel, who is actually a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth. The play is directed by Molly Wilken, English and drama teacher at ALHS.

“The Movie Game” is the story of Jack Goldberg (Ben Knutson), an unemployed movie addict who has found himself in the midst of a pre-midlife crisis.

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When Jack become disenchanted with his weekly custom of meeting lifelong friend Samantha (Emily Troe) at a condemned neighborhood movie theater for Chinese takeout, he decides the time has come for drastic change.

To shake the rut he is in, Jack agrees to see “the therapist to the stars,” Dr. Seuz (Aaron Thomas), after his overbearing mother, Florence (Janet Lawler), schedules an appointment for him.

Seuz convinces Jack that he must undergo a radical type of therapy that forces him to play the leading man in his own romantic comedy. The informal exercise escalates to include an over-the-top director, Blake Langley (Zach Wilke), a supporting cast of Jack’s parents (with Stuart Behling as Frank, the father) and a love interest — Jack’s bookish sister, Francine (Mckinzey Christian).

Unsure of his therapist’s sanity, Jack decides to take matters into his own hands. He falls for Maggie (Mariah Maras), who is regrettably engaged to Paul (Richard Wilkerson).

Meanwhile, Samantha envisions her own ending to the movie — one that will put her in Jack’s arms instead of Maggie.

“As in most comedies, plans go awry, but all is well in the end,” Wilken said.

The director said she chose the play because she enjoys directing comedies “not just for the humor but the excellent acting lessons that come out of learning to perform a comedic play.”

She added that it had a small cast and a fairly simple set to work with. “John Fure has once again created an excellent set that really draws you into the plot of the play,” Wilken said.

Ashley Petersen and Jessica Sanderson are the stage managers. Crew members are Josh Etherton and Macy Paul.

The play does include some challenges. “There are a lot of lines that need great comedic timing for them to have a huge impact, so we have been working as a cast on improving that ability,” she said.

Understanding the characters and why they are motivated the way they are motivated is another challenge. “You can’t just read lines well, you must be able to really understand why that character is using a sock puppet to illustrate a point to his client,” she added.

Wilken said the play will be best appreciated by high school age and up.

“This is a funny play and comedy live is so much more of an experience than comedy on a screen,” Wilken said. “If you are a big movie fan, then you will note all the sly movie references within the script that add to the humor. This is a great opportunity to see some quality performances by students and enjoy something different over the weekend.”

The show runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the ALHS auditorium with a curtain time of 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door for $5 for students and $7 for adults.