‘George Washington Slept Here’ keeps audience wide awake – and laughing – and David Douglas High School

Discover why tickets are selling fast for this wacky comedy about a city family’s countryside ‘dream-home-turned-money-pit’ now playing weekends through March 13 at the Horner Performing Arts Center …

Annabelle Fuller (played by Quinci Daoust) takes a look at the charming “fixer-upper” her husband, Newton (Carson Cook) purchased without telling her; their daughter Madge (Rachael Zeller) and her soon to be jilted heart-of-gold boyfriend, Steve Eldridge (Matt Richardson) survey their “new” living room.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Off to a good start on opening night, March 5, the actors and stage crew of David Douglas High School Theater Department have “moved into” their new winter comedy home, “George Washington Slept Here”.

The play, which continues on March 6th and also runs March 11, 12 and 13, is best described as a slapstick “house from Hell” farce.

Newton and Annabelle learn from friendly neighbor Mrs. Douglas (DeAnna Gayomali) that, in fact, George Washington didn’t ever sleep in the house – it was a fable made up by their shady real estate agent.

Annabelle and the family discover that the roof is in as bad condition as the rest of the house, as rain streams in during a storm.

Fun, but a technically demanding play
One reason for choosing this particular play, Judy LeCoq, a David Douglas High theater instructor, and the director of this play, told us is that “George Washington Slept Here” requires a high degree of technical expertise to play it out on stage.

“Our Technical Director, Mark Taylor, and his crew, bring this show to life,” LeCoq noted. “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!”

Another reason to mount this show, LeCoq said, is because of the humorous situations and clever dialog by the playwrights, Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. “Just like back when it was originally written, people today need a break from the cares and worries of the day. There’s a lot of satire and wit in this show. It’s a play where people can come in, sit back, and have an evening of laughs.

Each time local handyman Mr. Kimber (Corey T-Cedarleaf) comes to see Newton, he brings bad news – and a list of “needed purchases” that all cost more than estimated.

On short notice, rich-but-obnoxious Uncle Stanley J. Menninger, the “ball bearing magnate from Pittsburg” (Josh McKinley) arrives – ready to settle in for “a spell” and demand services one would expect in a fine hotel.

About the story …
Not many know that “George Washington Slept Here” was originally written as a stage play in 1940 by Hart and. Kaufman, but became known, thanks to a 1942 motion picture adaptation staring Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan, and Charles Coburn.

Tired of city life, Newton Fuller – unbeknown to his wife – buys a decrepit house in the country, in which George Washington supposedly slept. The list of things wrong with the house – and the very property on which it’s built – keeps growing exponentially.

The costs keep mounting as they try rebuilding the wreck of a house; and, the Fullers are beset with one problem after another.

Add to this their kooky clan that includes a thieving, ungrateful nephew, a daughter who is falls under the spell of a suave-yet-itinerant (and married) actor, a pregnant-but-unwed maid – and a grumpy neighbor who claims rights to their driveway – and water.

Madge’s young friends also come out for the weekend – but with steady rain falling all weekend long, their mood sours while Uncle Stanley snoozes.

Annabelle finds out why her husband has been so preoccupied during the weekend – she reads the foreclosure and eviction notice that’s been delivered.

Annabelle’s wicked nephew Raymond (Ian Booth) steals more than money from her purse – he plans to “sell out” his in-laws by giving secret information about the property to their grumpy and greedy neighbor.

To make matters worse, they find out it wasn’t President George Washington who had rested in the abode – instead, it was a much less savory character in American history.

  • Can this family turn their run-down hovel into a warm, happy home?
  • How will problems with their daughter and obnoxious, evil nephew resolve?
  • Can they find a way to tolerate Uncle Stanley, the world’s most demanding houseguest – and millionaire?
  • Will the Fullers find a way to pay the mortgage – just days before foreclosure?

Find out, as you watch the interaction of the colorful characters in ever-more-complex situations in this comic play, suitable for all ages. While there’s some broad slapstick humor, the show is family rated.

When Uncle Stanley “fesses up” – it looks as if the Fuller’s last hope for redemption – and their home – is gone. You’ll be surprised at the plan this clever liar comes up that might just save the day!

After smugly swaggering into the Fuller’s home, greedy neighbor Mr. Prescott (Ken Tang) starts backpedaling when Uncle Stanley puts the “whammy” on him!

Show continues through March 13
George Washington Slept Here” premiered on March 5, and 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.

The cast of George Washington Slept Here takes a well-deserved bow.  But, what happened to their house?

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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