The Branson High School Theatre Department is hosting its fall production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” on Nov. 12, 13 and 14.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” was written by Christopher Durang. Branson High School Theatre Teacher Erin Moody said this will be the first time Branson has ever hosted a performance of this particular play.
“It follows siblings who are all very different,” said Moody. “They all come together for a weekend and we see kind of their personalities and how they can kind of clash and how we can relate to some of the things they go through ourselves.”
Moody shared why she selected this particular production for her students to do this fall.
“Christopher Durang has an interesting style,” Moody said. “His style is very much, he likes to let the audience know that it’s okay to laugh when things are kind of sad or when things are not always going your way, you can still find moments to laugh at that. I just thought that was a perfect choice for what we’re all going though in 2020 this year.”
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” tells the story of Vanya and Sonia, who have never left the confines of the their childhood home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, while their sister Masha has been gallivanting around the globe as a successful actress. A surprise visit from Masha, who brings along her 20-something boy toy Spike, tosses the normally quiet household into utter upheaval as its residents and visitors get swept up into an intoxicating mixture of lust, rivalry, regret and the sudden possibility of escape, according to playbill.com.
The original play, which featured the talents of Sigourney Weaver as Masha, David Hyde Pierce as Vanya, Kristine Nielsen as Sonia and Billy Magnussen as Spike, opened on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on March 14, 2013. The play itself was the winner of a Tony Award in 2013 for ‘Best Play,’ playbill.com stated.
“It is a well known show in the theatre community. Christopher Durang does make a lot of theatre references in his writing as well,” said Moody. “So it’s really fun as well for myself and my students to look at those references and look them up and realize the humor behind some of the things he has written in the show.”
For the stage setting, Moody said she went with more of a realistic style.
“Lights come up on the inside of the characters parents home. So it may kind of look like your grandparents house. It’s got some older looking wall paper and lots of knick knacks all around the house,” said Moody. “It’s located in the morning room of the home where there’s big windows that can look out on the pond every morning. We don’t leave that location. It’s the same location through the entire show. It’s just a very realistic country side home.”
Like the rest of the entertainment community, the Branson High School fall production has also been affected by the pandemic. In response to the pandemic, Moody explained that for the first time ever she cast a full cast as well as a full understudy cast.
“So instead of just six characters in the show, I’ve been directing 12 kids. They each have an understudy,” said Moody. “The school has been doing a great job with contact tracing through this pandemic. Some students just never know when they will be contacted and told, ‘Hey you need to stay home for the next two weeks.’ So we try to make it where we always have a back-up in place.”
Moody said that because of the phenomenal job done by the understudy cast, they’re also hosting a special matinée performance on Saturday that will feature just the understudy cast.
“That understudy cast has worked just as hard, maybe even harder than this main cast. They’re doing a fantastic job and because of that we’ve added an extra performance just for the understudies. So that will take place Saturday at 2 o’clock,” said Moody. “We have a cast that will perform the show three times and then my understudies will get one full performance on Saturday.”
Tickets for the play are $6 for students and $8 for adults. Advance ticket reservations are available and encouraged. Ticket reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com.
“We will be social distancing, so we will only be seating half of the theater,” said Moody. “We’ll be doing every other row and spacing parties out. So if you’re interested in coming to see the show, get your reservations in sooner rather than later.”
Showtimes for the fall production are on Nov. 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. The cast of the show features the talents of Cidrick Higgins as Vanya, Brooke Cox as Sonia, Heather Hinnen as Masha, Cole Hill as Spike, Brynleigh Hill as Nina and Grace Clark as Cassandra. The understudy cast also features the talents of Caden Moszczenski as Vanya, Tatym Gettling as Sonia, Brianna Gragg as Masha, Taylor Sorensen as Spike, Molly Jones as Nina and Elora Tranchita as Cassandra.
“It’s just a fun show that will just help us escape what’s going on and help us to laugh at situations that aren’t always laughable in the moment,” Moody said. “So that will be nice.”
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