Wrong Window

VWCT play fun challenge for directors  (Article from the VWIndependent)

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

When the Van Wert Civic Theatre decided to take on the Billy Van Zandt/Jane Millmore mystery farce, Wrong Window, Co-Directors Mary Ann Falk and Steve Lane didn’t realize what a challenge producing the play would be.

Jeff Elbies (Nick McClellan) tries to keep Midge (Merry Thomas) from making a sound as they try to hide from a neighbor they think murdered his wife. The scene is from VWCT’s first play of the season, the Van Zandt/Millmore farce, “Wrong Window.” (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Falk, who did most of the technical work (blocking, staging, etc.) for the local production, noted that perhaps the most interesting challenge was creating the set for the play, which mirrors — and parodies — Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

“I enjoyed figuring out a set that we can flip and light properly,” Falk said. “What I do when I design a set is try to find photos or contact people who have done the show to look at their sets, and there is also the suggested set in the script.”

Falk added that she tends to then adapt those ideas to the space on the VWCT stage to come up with a workable set for the local production.

As happens in most Van Zandt/Millmore farces, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (in this case, Alfred Hitchcock). Although more than loosely based on Rear Window, instead of James Stewart’s L.B. Jeffries character, we have Jeff Elbies (played by Nick McClellan). His wife (not girlfriend) is Marnie (Amber Evans), named for the title character in another Hitchcock movie. There is also another couple, Robbie and Midge (Alex Gorman and Merry Thomas), while the presumed murderer, named Lars Thorwald in Rear Window, is now Thor Larswald (Dave Ricker), while his wife is Lila (Sara Ricker), the murder victim.

Other characters in the play are Loomis (Chris Burkheimer), the handyman, and Detective Dayle Thomas (Monica Campbell), again a word play on the detective in Rear Window, who was Thomas Doyle. Falk noted the first name was changed from Doyle, though, because a woman was playing the part.

There are also numerous references to other Hitchcock movies in the play, which starts this Thursday, and other little references to those movies (although we’re not telling what).

Falk said directing one of the Van Zandt/Millmore farces was new to her, although her co-director had done several with other local theatre companies.

“We’ve never done a Van Zandt/Millmore play here (at VWCT), although Off Stage and Stage Left that used to be at Stagecoach have done several,” Falk said, noting that the plays can be a little off-color, but lots of fun for an adult audience.

Lane’s task in producing the play is the “fun stuff”: working with the actors on comedic timing and physical humor, of which there is plenty in Wrong Window.

“Steve has a little lighter touch than I do on comedic timing,” Falk said, smiling.

The awesome set design is by Falk and her father, Harold Allen, while she and husband, Joe, created the light design. Falk joined with Burdette Bolenbaugh and Jewell Kurtz for prop design, while Bolenbaugh designed sound for the production.

The production ran from September 20-23 and 27-30, 2012.