Photo by Jason Sibert
(From left) Ian Crowley, Hannah Roller and Kimberly Melton will appear in GCHS’s upcoming production of “Plaza Suite.”
GRANITE CITY — Most associate homecoming with happiness and cheer, and Granite City High School’s fine arts department aims to reinforce those emotions with a performance of the play “Plaza Suite” — penned by the famous Neil Simon.
“For us, it’s good to do Neil Simon for a homecoming play,” Director John Manoogian said. “Neil Simon is a situationally driven comedy guy. In this particular play, there’s a lot of farce and a lot of comedic movements.
“There’s also a lot of slapstick. A lot of physical movement goes into Neil Simon shows.”
The director will be working with experienced student actors.
“It’s nice to work with actors who understand the way I do things and have a high regard for physical comedy,” he said. “The challenge is to put the physical comedy in the show but make it look genuine. We don’t want the characters to be a ‘caricature,’ but we want them to be people who find themselves in awkward situations.”
The story, originally set in the 1960s but given a contemporary feel for this particular production, revolves around Roy and Norma Hubley, who are celebrating their daughter Mimsy’s wedding. Mimsy, meanwhile, has locked herself in the basement and doesn’t want to come out. Her fiancé — Borden Eisler — has also locked himself in the bathroom in fear of the upcoming marriage.
The play takes place in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The set, completed by the theater technology department at GCHS, is designed to be two suites in the Plaza Hotel, one for each family, tied together by the wedding.
The production will run approximately 60 minutes without intermission.
“90 percent of the kids in our theater technology department have not taken this class before,” Manoogian said. “They did a phenomenal job of finishing this in a short period of time. I’m very proud of what they’ve done. They’re having to pick up the skills as they do it.”
Sophomore Kimberly Melton, 15, will play Mimsy. Melton landed a small role in a GCHS production of “A Christmas Carol” last year, and this is her first experience as a leading character.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “Even though I’m not seen (on stage) a lot, I still make myself known a quite a bit.”
Seniors Ian Crowley and Hannah Roller will play Roy and Norma Hubley. Both are seasoned actors; they landed roles in GCHS productions of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Roller described her character in “Plaza” as much more talkative than her character in “Brighton.” She also said working with Crowley helped her make the adjustment.
“We’ve worked with each other; we’re not new to each other,” Roller said. “The physical comedy part of it is really easy.”
Like Roller, Crowley must flex his range and play a character different that he’s accustomed to playing.
“The challenge is acting cool and then at other times acting crazy,” Crowley said. “My past characters are roughly the same with their emotions, but this guy is all over the place.”
In addition, Logan Cole will play Walter Eisler, Sidney Miller-Wright will play Alice Eisler and Dawson Pierson will play Borden Eisler. Caeden Barron (Best Man) and Kate Smith (Maid of Honor) round out the cast.
The performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15 at the Performing Arts Center at GCHS. The homecoming king and queen will be crowned Oct. 14 following the play.
Those interested in purchasing tickets can call GCHS at (618) 451-5808.