All the right moves for this 'Wrong' at The Empty Space

·2 min read

Jun. 22—When a show is called "The Play That Goes Wrong," it may not be surprising that something did, in fact, go wrong.

That was the case for the latest production at The Empty Space, which was delayed due to a COVID-19 outbreak late in the rehearsal process.

"Things don't just go wrong in our little corner," director Ron Warren wrote in an email. "While the theatre may be about creating imaginary worlds for us to inhabit, there's no pretending our casts, crews, and audiences can't still be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."

He credited the theater's leadership for quickly adjusting the show's schedule, allowing time for those who needed to recover and the ability for the rest of the team to work on the production.

"While the show must go on, it's an honor to work with a team dedicated to our collective wellbeing," he wrote.

This ensemble comedy, a style that Warren considers one of his specialties as a director, was pitched to him by The Empty Space board.

"The theatre actually approached me about directing this show and I was happy to accept. Sometimes a show comes along and you just know that it's for you."

Described as a play about a play, this "Play" follows the efforts of the Cornley University Drama Society on the opening night of its newest production, "The Murder at Haversham Manor." The 1920s whodunit is beset by disaster including an unconscious leading lady, a corpse who can't play dead and accident-prone thespians.

"'The Play that Goes Wrong' is a farce, but within the exaggerated gags are the small truths of things that have gone wrong for us in shows past — missed entrances, skipped cues, minor mishaps, and an assortment of bruises, sprains, and bumps on the head," Warren wrote.

According to the director, laughter often interrupted rehearsals as the cast reminisced about their real-life theatrical catastrophes.

The show stars Matt Borton, Kelsey Morrow, Jeremiah Heitman, Tessa Ogles, Perrin Swanson, Tevin Joslen, Jesus Fidel, Nick Ono, Alex Singh, Marina Gradowitz and Elizabeth Bomar.

Warren praised the precision-driven hard work — honed during "weeks of conceptualizing, rehearsing, drilling, and adjusting" — that allows the ensemble to move seamlessly from one mistake to another.

The crew also pulled off an incredible feat with the show's technical demands.

Warren wrote, "I don't want to give away too much, but building a set that starts as a lovely recreation of a countryside manor and collapses into shambles every evening is a challenge."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.