“Drama Impresses in Fall Play”

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An over domineering, cranky old man rolling around in a wheelchair, a sassy and fashionable actress, a rowdy young fellow and many more characters made for an amazing night of side-splitting laughter. The Diamond Bar High School play succeeded to change my merely appreciative view of high school productions to a highly admirable one.

I knew I was up for a surprise the instant I walked into the theatre. There was not as much people as I had expected, which is always a good thing, and pleasant music was playing in the background. The opening scene, I must admit, was a tad bit drawn-out, but after the entrance of Sheridan Whiteside, played by junior Matthew Aquino, the production had my full and undivided attention.

Before the big night, a friend had informed me that Aquino was a very fine actor, but I did not expect such a magnitude of talent. His English accent is near perfect and his facial expressions are priceless. From yelling at Miss Preen, played by senior Diana Power to flattering Sarah, played by junior Sara Phillips, Aquino is in full command of the stage.

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” is a comical performance revolving around the notorious radio personality Sheridan Whiteside. After slipping on a piece of ice in front of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley’s home, Whiteside is forced to stay at the house until fully recuperated. However, instead of expressing gratitude toward his gracious hosts, Whiteside essentially confines the couple to their bedroom and domineers over the household. What ensues is a knee-slapping mélange of scenes all led by Aquino himself.

The production has the just right blend of comical and emotional components, although the former complements the bulk of the plot. Senior Emily Chang, who impersonates the chic actress Lorraine Sheldon, gives a marvelous, and I must add, simply hilarious performance. The rest of the audience must have agreed with me, for I heard many people bursting out with laughter at the shrill, feminine voice that characterizes her dialogues and phone calls. Senior Brandon Wilson, who portrays Whiteside’s friend Banjo and makes his first entrance a while after Chang, delivers an equally commendable performance. Wilson’s carefree and flirty attitude toward everything plays a huge role in the comical factor of the play.

The appearance of senior Rachel McCown, who plays Whiteside’s spinster assistant Maggie Cutler, is when the emotional factor of the play kicks in. A seasoned veteran in drama, McCown captures all the appropriate feelings of the rather cheerless assistant who longs for some liberty from her overbearing employer. Her honest and severe outburst at Whiteside near the closure of the play is, I think, one of the best dialogues ever delivered throughout the course of the play. Everything is done impeccably, from the slight trembling of her voice to the explosion of her pent-up anger as she stalks offstage.

Apart from the acting, what really caught my eye was the set and the scenery. The set is one of the best I have seen so far at DBHS. The Christmas scenery is especially beautiful. Complete with a glowing orange fireplace and a sparkling Christmas tree, and at one point the soft singing of “Silent Night” by five lovely choir girls, the scenery had me wishing for the tinsel-filled holiday.

From the first-time freshman to the seasoned seniors, everyone truly deserves the thunderous applause that was presented to them during the curtain call. Of course, there were some obvious and some ambiguous mistakes made—it is a high school production after all—but those very mistakes enable the production to shine brighter, reason being that everyone is so well prepared. Inarticulate lines are repeated for what seems like intended emphasis and props out of order are skillfully kicked into place.

All in all, “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” which continues on Friday and Saturday, is a huge success. Never have I thought that I would come to love and appreciate a DBHS production to this extent. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, it was an honor to be a special guest at your place tonight.