|HHS production of 'Around the World in 80 Days' a big hit|
|Written by Jes-c Brandt|
At precisely 8 p.m. on the evening of Friday, Nov. 19, the audience at the Holyoke High School auditorium was swept up in a voyage around the world. By 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the journey had twice been completed.
Under the direction of Carla Mayfield, HHS student actors presented a unique production of Mark Brown’s Around the World in 80 Days. Before the house lights even dimmed, viewers were struck by the set. Oversized clocks and hanging gears served as a constant reminder that time is of the essence.
Sarah Heermann first took the stage, delivering the facts about the time and place of the action. Heermann, as well as Christa Durbin, Catrina Krueger and Joel Rodriguez, were repeatedly used as narrators to inform the audience of extra plot details.
Another interesting technique used to relay additional information came from the newspaperman, played by Skyler Mayfield. It was, in fact, his estimation that one could travel around the world in 80 days that triggered the movement of the whole play.
A wager was placed on whether the feat could be accomplished, and Phileas Fogg set out to prove that it could. Fogg was played by Brian DeBoer, who was every bit the proper Londoner. His consistently steady tone and gait both contributed to an even disposition.
Phileas Fogg, played by Brian DeBoer, sits down with his companions, actors pictured
A character fixated on punctuality and precision, Fogg’s nature was made known in the first scene. Fogg’s former servant, played by Ben Martinez, shared that he had been fired for a two degree error in the temperature of his master’s shaving water.
Stepping in as the new servant was Passepartout, played by Becca Brandt. From the moment she took the stage, Brandt had her audience laughing. Between her exaggerated facial expressions and her continual physical humor, Brandt was a remarkable contrast to DeBoer’s strict character.
Despite looking for a quiet life, the devoted Passepartout followed her master on a spur of the moment trip around the world. Apparently the impulsive nature of their quest was cause for suspicion, and Detective Fix, played by Lauren Blomme, pursued the pair, attempting to arrest Fogg.
Watching Fix’s ineffective attempts to prove her skills as a detective was endlessly entertaining.
While Fogg and Passepartout began their travels, oblivious to Fix’s intentions, they encountered a number of unforeseen obstacles and eccentric individuals.
When the wild American Colonel Proctor, played by Sarah
In Bombay, Passepartout spends her few hours of downtime on a self-guided tour. Much to her dismay she is attacked by three priests, played by Molly Brandt, Austin Killin and Ryan Parker. In addition to taking her packages, they steal the shoes right off her feet. She later discovers it is illegal to wear shoes at the pagoda.
Shoeless, but nonetheless devoted, Passepartout rejoins Fogg on the train bound for Calcutta. Midway, they are informed by the conductor, played by Kelsey Kramer, that the track is not complete as the newspaper had reported.
In the company of Sir Francis, the mustached gentleman they met on the train, played by Preston King, the two set out to find transportation to the next train station.
Here they secured an elephant from a quirky Indian man, played by Ben Martinez, and were fortunate to conveniently find a guide for hire. The guide, played by Briar Bergner, led the three through the animal-filled jungle, but were forced to stop short.
Pictured at left, Passeportout (Becca Brandt) pours tea with a steady hand as she rides
Made aware of an imminent human sacrifice, Fogg determined there was time enough to spare to save the woman, Aouda, played by Ella Stewart. Once she was rescued, the group hurried on their way to board another train. From that point on, Aouda stayed with Fogg and Passepartout, and the trio completed the journey together.
As they continued around the world, it was obvious that Aouda’s feelings for Fogg were growing. Stewart did a splendid job of playing the simultaneously lovesick and indebted character.
In Hong Kong Fix tried once again to foil Fogg’s plan, getting Passepartout drunk and separating her from the others. Brittney Prottsman played the part of a waitress, bringing Passepartout drink after drink, until she was passed out on the floor.
Detec...um..uh...Fix tries one final plot to detain Fogg in his
Overcoming many obstacles, Fogg, Aouda, Passepartout and Fix eventually docked in San Francisco, where they encountered their share of American characters.
Preston King and Sarah Heermann played a couple of French-hating, Apache-fighting, freedom-loving wackos. Despite their differences, however, they all eventually worked together to keep Fogg on track.
Joel Rodriguez, playing a cowboy called Mudge, offered the use of his oversized sled to carry the four to their next train station, where they proceeded to rush to New York City. Their haste, however, was not enough, for they arrived in the city 45 minutes after the steamer had departed.
At this point Fogg did what anyone would do. He tricked a Brooklyn ship captain, played by Skyler Mayfield, and staged a mutiny. Resorting to burning the ship itself for fuel, the odd bunch did finally make it to Liverpool.
Captain Speedy (Skyler Mayfield) gives Phileas Fogg (Brian DeBoer) a piece of his
With nine hours until the deadline, and a six-hour train ride to London, it seemed Fogg had his wager in the bag. But to his surprise, Fix arrested him the moment he set foot on English soil. Temporary imprisonment delayed his plans, but Fogg quickly made his way to the train station when he was freed.
There the board operator, played by Brooke Parker, arranged for a private train to take Fogg and his companions to London.
The devastating sound of the clock striking 9 p.m. announced their arrival in London, five minutes too late. Despair lasted only a short while. Upon Aouda’s marriage proposal to Fogg, Passepartout met with Reverend Wilson’s servant, played by Maddie King, to arrange the wedding.
The servant congratulated Passepartout on Fogg’s win, confusing her greatly. Realizing it was still Saturday, not Sunday as they had thought, a delighted Passepartout hurried to her master to share the news.
In the nick of time, Fogg arrived at the Reform Club, interrupting a premature celebration between Catrina Krueger and Austin Killin, playing the club members who bet against Fogg. Just like that, the £20,000 wager was won.
A number of actors played multiple roles in this production. The seamless transition between each character was evidence of a talented and capable cast.
Christa Durbin, pictured at left, plays a Hong Kong native as one of her roles in Around
Traveling around the world in 80 days was no easy task for Fogg, and telling the story in two acts was an accomplishment in itself. The creative set, complete with trains and ships, helped the audience wrap their minds around the voyage.
Sound and lighting effects, done by Shaylee Krueger and Jacinda Krueger respectively, added to the experience, setting the characters’ time and place.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made this production such a success, but a combination of many well-coordinated features certainly made it a pleasure to watch.