LAWRENCE — Lies, kidnapping and men dressed as women are the results when relatives try to get their hands on Uncle Sammy’s joke chest.
These dysfunctional hijinks of the Sunnyside clan can all be found in the Central Catholic High School Theatre Guild’s production of Sunny-Side Up Nov. 16, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. in the school’s Rogers Memorial Theater.
In Sunny-Side Up, Sammy Sunnyside, a world-famous comedian played by Theatre Guild president Matthew Keleher of Merrimac, decides to retire and give his joke chest to the most deserving of his relatives, but unbeknownst to Sammy, some of his more dishonest relatives have something else in mind.
“Our director, (Sharman) Merrill picked the play,” Keleher said. “But I did the read-through with her on the couple she was deciding between. We wanted to do something different, not the same old plays every school does.”
In the play, Sammy and his lawyer Dagwood Hermsmier, played by Michael Twomey of North Andover, dress up as women to spy on the Sunnyside family to determine who is going to inherit the joke chest.
Keleher and Twomey said that while they are dressed as women, they are not dressed in drag so the audience will be fully aware they are men. Keeping their voices at the high pitch is a more difficult task.
“If we do slip into (our male) tendencies, it won’t be that bad,” Twomey said. “Plus we’re talking with English accents.”
Twomey explained when reading for the plays, kids are not auditioning for specific parts; they simply do several readings and Merrill decides who is going to play whom.
“When I read for Sammy, I pretty much knew I was going to play him,” Keleher said.
Twomey said with each call-back, kids were moved to different characters until the cast was set. “I remember when we were all on stage reading the characters and it just felt right,” Twomey said. “We knew that was going to be the cast.”
Conniving siblings, Oswald and Roweena Sunnyside, want the joke chest to sell it and conspire to have their cousin, Rebecca, kidnapped because she wants to have the joke chest passed on to the next comedian in the family.
Plenty of mishaps happen when the kidnappers continually grab the wrong women, including Sammy, who’s dressed as Clara.
Roweena’s boyfriend, Jack Cleaver, played by Ryan O’Connor of Methuen, is really in love with Rebecca even though Dagwood hears Jack and Roweena plotting against Rebecca.
The normally shy Dagwood starts to develop feelings for Rebecca and begins courting her while he’s still dressed as a woman.
Tickets are $10 and are available by contacting Ron Russo at RRusso@centralcatholic.net.
The Theatre Guild has entered its 36th year and is comprised of more than 75 students who are either in the cast or in the crew. The guild holds two performances a year.
Have a story idea? Gayle Simone can be reached at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.