A current production on Broadway in Chicago is offering a blend of live theater, comedy and community.
“It is an entire night of laughter where everything that could go wrong goes wrong, as [the] comedy troupe at Cornley University tries to put on ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor,’” Brenann Stacker says. “It’s very Monty Python meets murder mystery.”
Stacker plays Sandra in “The Play That Goes Wrong,” now at the Broadway Playhouse.
“Annie is the stage manager that is running the production of ‘The Murder at Haversham Manor,’ and is pushed onstage, with the wig and whatnot, when I get knocked out and forced to do the role,” Stacker says.
Peoria native Daryn Whitney Harrell joins the cast for the final leg of its run. Harrell says her background in musical theater has prepared her for her first professional role.
“I’m this character that does not want to be onstage,” Harrell said. “I just never want to be seen, and then all of a sudden I get thrown onstage because something happens to a character and we need another actor, and it’s me. I think of it as I’m on the stage and still not existing until I come into my own and find that I can do this job, and do it better than her.”
Harrell says her comedy training at Second City also comes in handy for this play within a play.
“What I love about this production is the comedy,” Harrell says. “I love the funny of making people laugh their butts off the entire night. It makes me happy ... I’ve done a lot of musical theater and then like this which has been such a whirlwind of fun and so different than anything I’ve ever done.”
Stacker agrees. With a background in rhythmic gymnastics, she found herself stretching familiar muscles in her first role since the pandemic.
“We got help from former actors and they gave tips on like where you need your body to be for certain parts, so we had a regimen and physical therapists,” Stacker says. “I have diff muscles in my body that need to be in certain shape versus other characters … Sandra is in heels for the whole show, so maintaining that certain level of balance —falling and running or doing things I’d normally do in sneakers.”
Aside from the laughter and sometimes strenuous workouts, Stacker says this role has shown her the importance of collaboration in storytelling.
“It’s a very ensemble-based show, which taught me a lot about working with people, and how collaboration really takes you to the next level,” Stacker says. “That show really showed this to me. You can make so much more as a team than just one person.”
The Play That Goes Wrong runs at the Broadway Playhouse through Sunday, May 29.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.