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No Refund Theatre Presents: ‘Play On!’

No Refund Theatre (NRT) is back with “Play On!,” a 1980s comedy written by Rick Abbot. From conceited small-town divas to an underfunded production, the play is a humorous yet realistic slice-of-life story on the highs and lows of community theater.

“I think a general audience is going to appreciate it because they’ll get to see sort of what goes on behind the scenes for productions,” co-director and third-year media studies major Quintin Sulkowski said. “Then people who are involved in theater will have an extra appreciation for it because they can relate to these experiences.”

Compared to other NRT productions, “Play On!” has quite a large cast with colorful characters.

In the crew, there is the stressed-out director, Gerry Dunbar, who has no problem yelling at her exhausted cast, Aggie Manville, the play’s often distracted stage manager, and Louis Peary, the klutzy yet well-meaning tech and stagehand.

The “Murder Most Foul” cast consists of Henry and Polly Banish, a married couple made up of a weak-willed husband and insecure but conceited wife, Smitty Smith, a 17-year-old girl struggling to juggle both the play and her academics, Susan Watson, a jaded and abrasive community theatre veteran, and lastly, the relaxed Billy Carewe and the flamboyant Violet Imbry, a young, passionate couple who are eager to share an on-stage kiss.

“It is a nightmare to schedule people together,” co-director and third-year mechanical engineering major Robert Martin said. “All together, the cast did an excellent job of of working despite that.”

The story opens with the cast rehearsing an original show called “Murder Most Foul.” Things aren’t looking great. It’s four days until opening night and only half of the cast is off book, the set has no furniture, and the play’s ditsy author, Phyllis Montague, keeps changing the script.

Despite causing major production setbacks and general confusion, Gerry reluctantly continues to allow Montague’s influence on the show as the playwright is allowing the company to perform the show for free.

Gerry’s actress, Christina Ellis, a second-year biological sciences and Spanish double major, found acting as the woman overseeing the stage a fun challenge.

“I’m used to having lines that kind of flow throughout a scene, but playing a director, I’m supposed to be interjecting,” said Ellis. “Overall, this has probably been the hardest show I’ve done in NRT.”

As show day edges closer and closer, the company is faced with more challenges, rewrites, and internal conflicts that slow rehearsals down. “Play On!” progresses through “Murder Most Foul” rehearsals until the final act where the cast must perform the murder mystery on opening day as the stress and disorganization culminate into an opening night performance like no one has ever seen.

“I’m really excited to see where the show goes,” Henry’s actor, first-year history major Jack Stevens, said. “I think it’s pretty unique as far as comedies that NRT has done.”

“Play On!” portrays a hysterical, dysfunctional company leaving the audience in love with the quirky cast and empathizing with the disgruntled crew.

The show will take place from Thursday, March 14, to Saturday, March 16, in Forum 111. As always, admission is free.

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About the Author

Marie Moyer

Marie is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. She loves being fiscally irresponsible at local farmers markets, watching niche documentaries on HBO, and going to Penn State hockey games as "self-care." You can reach her on Instagram - @_mariemoyer_ or send her suggestions (and cat photos) via her email - [email protected].

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