Flawless Production Brings to Life a Hilariously Flawed Production in "Moon Over Buffalo"
Imagine this: Two fading Broadway stars of the 1950s, husband-and-wife team George and Charlotte Hay, take their run-down production on the road and find themselves in Buffalo, New York. As they try to run two shows, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Private Lives,” with a cast and crew operating amidst rivalries, grudges and secret intentions, everything that can go wrong — both backstage and center stage — does.
The same cannot be said for the Ravenscroft cast and crew who put on this comedy, Ken Ludwig’s critically acclaimed, award-winning “Moon Over Buffalo,” on Oct. 28-29. For the eight-member cast and 17-member crew, everything in their hilarious production went right.
Led by Sammy Rivas ’19 and Zoe Nagel ’19 as George and Charlotte, the cast gave a flawless performance filled with humor and delivered in style. Whether it’s Rosalind (Davis Anderson ’22) and her clueless fiance, Howard (Michael Sisson ’19); Ethel (Eva Guarino ’19), Charlotte’s elderly, hearing-impaired stage-manager mother, who despises her son-in-law; Paul (Lyon Dorafshar ’20), Rosalind’s ex-boyfriend; Eileen (Sarah Davenport ’21), the temptress; or Richard (Jackson Fisk ’20), the family lawyer who hopes to lure Charlotte away — the characters are all hilariously tangled in intrigue and no small amount of confusion about which play is being performed when.
The set was a single-space rendering of many rooms and centered around the Hay’s backstage green room. A feat of STEM+ ingenuity comprising multiple-level landings and five doors that were slammed throughout the play, it was constructed by students under the direction and leadership of Russell Vacanti, technical director and Stagecraft instructor.
“Mr. Vacanti was able to work with the students and the script to use the craft of stage design to create a centerpiece for the performance,” said David McChesney, director of fine arts. “He pushed the students through class curriculum, and both Middle and Upper School Stagecraft students rose to the occasion, building an amazing set using the confines of the space and our turntable — and in record time.”
“Moon Over Buffalo,” a light modern comedy, was intentionally chosen this year by the Drama Department to be a contrasting production to last year’s performance of Richard III, a dark classic drama. As McChesney said, “If we look at the four years our students spend in the drama program, over that time we try to make sure they cover as many genres as possible: serious tragedy, modern ideas, comedy, social themes and so forth.”
Middle and Upper School drama instructor Jason Sharp added, “When much of today’s comedy is found to be offensive, [the Drama Department] chose to take the opportunity to laugh at ourselves, as actors.”
And laugh they did. The instructors, cast and crew often took time to reflect upon how much joy there is for them in creating a big production, Sharp said.
“This production was one of the most enjoyable processes I can remember,” he said. “Working with such a small cast was refreshing. What made it successful is that everyone contributed 100 percent every day. As my students quip, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work.’”
GEORGE HAY: Sammy Rivas ’19
CHARLOTTE HAY: Zoe Nagle ’19
ETHEL: Eva Guarino ’19
ROSALIND HAY: Davis Anderson ’22
HOWARD: Michael Sisson ’19
EILEEN: Sarah Davenport ’21
PAUL: Lyon Dorafshar ’20
RICHARD: Jackson Fisk ’20
Stage Manager (SM): Kemmia Ghodrat ’19
Assistant SM: Addison Crookenden ’19, Nicole Keim ’22
Make-up: Tiffany Jiang ’19
Light Operator: Landon Sugar ’19
Spotlight Operator: Julia Avery ’21
Sound Operators: Devin Scioletti ’20, Martina Frederick ’20
Running Crew: Sunishka Deshpande ’22, Harp Sandman ’22, Mason Foster ’23, MaLea Spooner ’21, Vivian Avery ’19
Fight Choreographer: George Labusohr ’10