Student actors construct crafty comedy at David Douglas High

Isn’t it time for a good laugh? See why you should plan to see “George Washington Slept Here”, premiering on March 5 at the Horner Performing Arts Center …

Trying to cope with a multitude of problems posed by their newly acquired run-down mansion – from its leaky roof, to falling-down walls – are Marissa Hanson, playing Rena Leslie; Carson Cook as the unlucky new homeowner, Newton Fuller; Matt Richardson as Steve Eldridge; Cary Miga as Clayton Evans; Rachael Zeller as Madge Fuller; and Quinci Daoust as woman-of-the-house Annabelle Fuller. All are shown rehearsing for the opening of the charmingly funny play, “George Washington Slept Here”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The David Douglas High School Theater Department is about to take the wraps – perhaps we should say construction tarps – off their new winter comedy, “George Washington Slept Here”.

The play, that premieres on March 5th and runs two weekends, is best described as a slapstick “house from Hell” comedy.

Few realize “George Washington Slept Here” was originally written as a stage play in 1940 by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. But it became widely known, thanks to a 1942 motion picture adaptation staring Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan, and Charles Coburn.

About the story …
Tired of city life, Newton Fuller – unbeknownst to his wife – buys a decrepit house in the country, in which George Washington supposedly slept. It’s truly a “money pit”.

Trying to rebuild the wreck of a house, the Fullers are beset with one problem after another; and the antics of their kooky clan only makes matters worse. To top things off, it turns out, they find out it wasn’t actually Washington who had rested in the abode – instead, it was a much less savory character in American history.

  • Will they be able to turn the run-down shack into a livable home?
  • How will problems with their daughter and obnoxious nephew resolve?
  • Can they find a way to tolerate Uncle Stanley, the world’s most demanding houseguest – and millionaire?

Find out, as you watch the interaction of the colorful characters in ever-more-complex situations in this comic play.

Backstage, director and theater instructor Judy LeCoq coaches actor Josh McKinley, who plays the rich-but-obnoxious Uncle Stanley J. Menninger.

Says it’s a technically demanding play
Judy LeCoq, a David Douglas High theater instructor, and the director of this play, said she chose “George Washington Slept Here” because she loves Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s humorous situations and clever dialog.

“There’s a lot of satire and wit in their comedies,” LeCoq said, between rehearsals. “This is a play where people can come in, sit back, and laugh. Just like back when it was originally written, people today need a break from the cares and worries of the day.”

Another reason for choosing this particular show, LeCoq added, was the many technical requirements of staging it.

“Our Technical Director, Mark Taylor, and his crew, bring this show to life,” LeCoq told us. “The house [set] is in shambles when the curtain rises. Then, it’s refurbished during scene changes. When it rains, the ceilings actually leak. And, you won’t believe what happens to the set by the show’s end!”

This play is suitable for all ages. While there’s some broad slapstick humor, the show is definitely family rated.

Show opens March 5
George Washington Slept Here” premieres on March 5, and also runs on March 6; it also plays the evenings of March 11, 12 and 13. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all performances.

Tickets are $7 for adults; $5 for students and seniors. The Box Office at the theater is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 3:00 until 5:30 p.m. on school days, and also one hour before the show. Call the box office at (503) 261-8270 with questions.

The Theater and Box Office are located in the David Douglas High School Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Avenue (between SE Stark Street and SE Division Street) To visit their website, CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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