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SPF High School to Stage Drama "Idiot's Delight"

Les Femmes Left to right, Grace Ahlin, Audrey Smith, Rachel Schuman, Libby Daniskas, Shannon McCreesh and Nora Going Credits: Susan Schuman
Idiot's Delight Full Cast Credits: Susan Schuman
Brother and Sister Ethan and Amelia Graham play newlywed couple in Idiot's Delight Credits: Susan Schuman
Caitlyn Bourke and Matt Mahmet Credits: Susan Schuman
Justin Rizzi and Raina Jablon     Credits: Susan Schuman

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - Scotch Plains Fanwood High School will be presenting the Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Idiot’s Delight” by Robert E. Sherwood, Dec. 4 and 5 at 7pm and Dec. 6 at 2pm at SPFHS, 667 Westfield Road in Scotch Plains.  Director Kale Thompson is making his directorial debut - bringing the drama back to SPFHS, where the last non-musical was staged over 15 years ago. He brings with him, a wealth of experience; as the Vocal Music Teacher at Terrill Middle School, Thompson founded the TMS Players where he has produced and directed two musicals and two dramas. Tickets are $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors & Students -  are available in advance at by phone at (800) 838 – 3006, or at the door.

It’s the eve of World War II. In a mountain resort on the Italy / Austria border, a dozen travelers find themselves unable to leave Italy, as the rumblings of war become even more palpable, with each thrum of warplanes taking off from a nearby airfield. And these travelers – English, American, German, French, Russian, along with their Italian hosts – may not all be whom they seem to be.

The play is a delightful challenge for the young actors in the cast, as they delve into the multi-layered personalities that intertwine in the restaurant bar of the resort. The tension builds as each of the various characters struggles with the challenge of being prevented from leaving by the Italian authorities. There’s the English couple (Ethan Graham and Amelia Graham), newly-wed in Florence and anxious, maybe, to get home. There’s the German scientist, Dr. Waldersee (Nate Redmount), who is desperate to leave to continue his experiments to find a cure for cancer . . . or is it for biological weaponry? Then we have the French anarchist Quillery (John DeMarco), who is staunchly anti-Fascist, abrasive, yet strangely compelling.

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We also meet a munitions kingpin, Achille Weber (Matt Mahmet), with few nationalistic ties and fewer scruples. And what to make of his Russian companion, Irene (Caitlin Bourke), who may be related to the czars before the Soviets took over Russia, but is clearly hiding more than that. Throw into the mix an outgoing American showman, Harry Van (Dan Dawson), with his coterie of showgirls (Grace Ahlin, Audrey Smith, Libby Daniskas, Rachel Schuman, Shannon McCreesh and Nora Going), who claims he wants nothing more than to bring his troupe safely home from their Balkan tour, but could there be more on his agenda?

In the midst of all this intrigue are the Italians – both the military keeping the travelers contained, such as Captain Locicero (Peter Canevari), and the staff of the resort, who have past lives and secrets of their own, such as the hotel manager, Pittaluga (Raina Jablon), the pianist (Nathan Graham) and servers Dumpsty (Justin Rizzi) and Auguste (Jason Ritter), along with the American social director, Don Navadel (Arthur Rohman), who dreams of something more.

For the audience, “Idiot’s Delight” will be visual pleasure as characters come, go, form alliances, then break alliances – and vocally, as the actors wrap themselves in a chorus of European accents, with snippets of German, French and Italian throughout. All within the backdrop of air raid sirens, distant gunfire and that ongoing flow of airplanes. Special commendation goes to the Head of Sound, Matt Garber, Head of Lighting, Renee Mannino, and the Head of Set Design & Construction, Joe Witkowski.

The rights for “Idiot’s Delight” by Robert E. Sherwood are managed by the Dramatists Play Service, Inc., of New York. Please note that the subject matter contains some mature thematic elements.

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