Riverfront Theater Company’s final performance of the 2022 season will leave audiences laughing well into the new year.
Steven Gallagher, director of “The Play That Goes Wrong,” said playwrights Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields made beautiful work of comedy, and people will love the piece for its pure escapism.
“In a time where there isn’t always a lot to laugh about, performances like this one are perfect to raise the spirits of everyone that sees them,” said Gallagher, a graduate of Clarion University with 25 years theater experience performing across the country. “You can’t take this show too seriously.”
Performances are 8 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and Nov. 17-19 at Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall. Tickets start at $20.
“The Play That Goes Wrong” was written in 2012 and won Best New Comedy three years later at the Laurence Olivier Awards in London. It opened on Broadway shortly after.
The plot follows a play within a play, the fictional “Murder at Haversham Manor,” and is full of purposeful missed cues, falling scenery and spit takes, according to RTC Marketing Director Hillary Santel.
“In this rollicking production, everything going wrong means that everything is going exactly, comically right,” Santel said.
The fictional 1920s whodunit is complete with an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead and actors who trip over everything, she said.
Plenty of local stars shine, including Colin Burns, Erika Krenn, Chelsea Conway, John Feightner, Liz Shaming, Stephen Toth, Jim Froehlich and Fred Coleman.
Feightner, a veteran actor in the Pittsburgh area, landed the role of Max and said the show is a hilarious take on an utter disaster.
“Every character in our show knows it’s going horribly out of sorts on stage, but, being what they think is professional, they keep on going,” Feightner said. “Max has been fun to play. Hopefully audiences will enjoy our characters’ idiotic ingenuity at keeping a failing show going.”
Feightner cut his teeth at “Friday Nite Improvs” on the University of Pittsburgh campus before joining the sketch comedy troupe, Hustlebot. He appears regularly at the Arcade Comedy Theater, downtown Pittsburgh, in “Knights of the Arcade,” a Dungeons and Dragons-themed show.
Of the Riverfront Theater finale, Feightner said, “The playwrights have come up with a great number of gags, both physical and verbal, and watching the snowball of trouble get bigger and bigger is going to be a lot of fun.
Actor Colin Burns plays the fictional on-stage director as well as the role of Inspector Carter, who is trying to solve the murder mystery.
Burns began acting as a teen and said strong community theaters are vital to the health of the region.
“There’s a lot to enjoy about (this show),” Burns said. “The play within the play manages to be entertaining in itself while also falling apart before your very eyes.”
Gallagher, of Wilkins Township said he sees the show as a love letter to people that have had “those” performances — that no matter what you do, nothing seems to go right.
This particular show amps the stakes to an almost ridiculous level, he said, but the beauty is that the actors can identify with some hardships that sometimes happen in smaller-scale theater.
“People will absolutely fall in love with this cast,” Gallagher said.
“I almost feel I’ve had things way too easy because of the remarkable talent that I was able to put together for this show.”
For more information, visit riverfronttheaterco.org/tickets.