Brookhaven Little Theatre will perform technically challenging show ‘The play that goes wrong’

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — In 15 days, The Brookhaven Little Theatre will produce a play within a play guaranteed to leave you with belly aching laughter. Steven McMorris, production manager for BLT, said “The play that goes wrong,” will be in production for one weekend only. 

Opening night is February 8 and the final show will be February 11. Tickets range from $15 to $30 depending on where seats are located. McMorris said the turnaround for the show has been quick but the cast has worked hard. 

Typically, BLT has about eight weeks to prepare for a show but this one has been around a month due to how the calendar fell. The set for the play was purchased from a professional set designer and was used at the University of Southern Mississippi. It was built specifically for the show. 

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Brookhaven Little Theatre did use some ingenuity in fabricating the set to meet their needs. A motorized pulley helps the set’s elevator move more freely but adds to the ridiculously loud sounds of an operating elevator in 1920, which the play within the play is set. 

“The story follows the Cornley University Drama Society and their production and they have unfortunate events happen,” McMorris said. “The set is all set up to do gimmicks and stunts. It is designed to fall apart and allows for funny moments. While the audience sees a show going wrong it is very technical. It all has to be choreographed with procession. The cool part is the cast in the story’s play push through and make it through their show overcoming one challenge after another.” 

BLT had some help from a former member over the weekend to help learn the stunts so no one would be hurt. Connor Cagle, now performing in Branson, Missouri with the Sight and Sound Theatres, helped train and choreograph stunts with the actors. McMorris said he believes the cast enjoyed the help from Cagle. 

Brookhaven resident Josh Carter plays the director and the story’s Inspector Carter, just a coincidence. Carter said the character is supposed to act and direct but as things go wrong with the play the man becomes more and more frustrated.

He said the character is a bit narcissistic and yells at the cast. Carter is not either of those traits. In the Wizard of Oz production, Carter had to yell at people as the Wizard. He said in reality he does not like to yell at all. 

“It’s funny. It makes it better that I’m playing the director of this show and it is the first time he directs. He wants everything to be perfect and nothing goes right,” Carter said. “As the stuff goes he gets more and more angry because he is surrounded by idiots. It is a different play than normal. You usually can ad lib and roll with things but the lines are very specific so we can do our stunts at specific stunts.” 

The Mississippi State alumni grew up in Canton but moved to Brookhaven after graduating from college in 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic. When he was younger, he would improv and act out movie scenes with his brother. Acting was something he wanted to do but never got the chance. 

By day, he is an HVAC engineer but the community theater has become his third place. He said his first year and a half he just worked and went home but a mother of one of the BLT members invited him to join in and he did. Carter has become friends with BLT actor Jonah Clark and found his home on stage. 

“I didn’t know too many people when I first moved here. I went to work and I went home,” Carter said. “Now I have this whole community of people who I have grown close with. I have become good friends with them.” 

Karli Britt will play the character of Florence in the play. She grew up in Montana but moved to Brookhaven and graduated from BHS and is a resident. Florence is a dramatic character and sometimes a little over the top. 

Britt said her kids say she can be dramatic. Her start in acting and drama began with Brookhaven High School’s forensics, debate and the homecoming production. 

“The play that goes wrong,” is her first production where she plays a major role on stage. Over the years, her kids have been in plays with the most recent being A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens. She picked a doozy of a play to get back into acting. 

“It has been a lot of fun and a new experience for me. This play is quickly paced,” Britt said. “You can watch one side of the stage one night and watch the other side on another and see something new. It has a lot of fun things going on. It can be overwhelming.” 

With a couple of weeks left to practice, the cast is working hard to put on the best show by nailing down the best approaches, voice inflections and timing. Theater is a process from the script readings held in December to the raw rehearsals in January and soon the polished production in February. 

Britt said one of the neat things about being involved in a community theater is how people will come and watch a performance solely because they know the people in it. She added her coworkers know she is in the play and it will be strange having her work family come in to watch and see her act. 

“It is rewarding that you get to have this experience and provide entertainment for the community and be a part of it. It is such a historic building too,” Britt said. “I work in Hazlehurst as a radiologic technologist. On my way home from work, I’ll sit there and run the lines and talk to myself in the car to practice. I think other drivers think I’m crazy. If I can perform it in the car I will perform it anywhere. It has been fun, so much fun.”