Lizzy Hall stars in the Athens High School Drama Club production of "Charley's Aunt," opening Nov. 12. (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)
Lizzy Hall stars in the Athens High School Drama Club production of “Charley’s Aunt,” opening Nov. 12. (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)

AHS Drama Club Kicks Off Season with 1890s Farce

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While looking for a new production to kick off its 2015-2016 season, the Athens High School Drama Club found something old — from the 1890s, to be exact.

According to Director Carol Patterson, the students requested that the fall play be a farce, which contrasts with last year’s performance of The Diary of Anne Frank.

They had some trouble deciding on a selection until Patterson brought Charley’s Aunt to the table.

Playwright Brandon Thomas wrote Charley’s Aunt in the early 1890s. The play broke records in London and enjoyed success on Broadway, where it was performed until 1970.

Dan Dygas (left) and Weston Dean discuss matters in "Charley's Aunt." (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)
Dan Dygas (left) and Weston Dean discuss matters in “Charley’s Aunt.” (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)

Patterson refers to the farce as “lively” and high-spirited.”

“There’s somewhat of a theme of the folly and silliness of love…in a Victorian period among very wealthy people,” she said.

The three-act play focuses on Oxford undergraduate students Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham. Charley finds out that his rich, widowed aunt is coming to visit him, and the men invite dates to meet her at lunch, as well as another Oxford student, Fancourt Babberley, to distract Charley’s aunt as Charley and Jack romance their dates, with whom they must be chaperoned.

Jack’s father receives an invitation to the lunch when he informs his son that, in order to clear the family debts, Jack must take a job he does not want. Jack offers the solution of his single father marrying Charley’s wealthy aunt.

After all of the hard work setting up the lunch, Charley receives a telegram informing him that his aunt will not arrive for a few days. Refusing to cancel after losing their chaperone, Babberley dresses as a woman using Jack’s costume from an amateur play in which he is performing.
Not only does Jack’s father almost leave at the sight of his spontaneous blind date, but “Charley’s aunt” gains another admirer: Charley’s girlfriend’s uncle.

Sarah Denhart (left) and Daryl Holm star in Athens High School's production of "Charley's Aunt." (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)
Sarah Denhart (left) and Daryl Holm star in Athens High School’s production of “Charley’s Aunt.” (Jeffrey Zide/WOUB)

The cast includes Ike Riesbeck as Lord Rancourt Babberly, Hunter Wood as Stephen Spettigue, Sam Redfern as Col. Sir Francis Chesney, Daniel Dygas as Jack Chesney, Weston Dean as Charley Wykeham, Chiara Ridpath as Brassett, Elizabeth hall as Donna Lucia D’Alvadorez, Daryl Holm as Kitty Verdun, Sarah Denhart as Amy Spettigue and Autumn Snow-Watkins as Ela Delahay.

Patterson has been the high school’s drama club director for more than 30 years. She couldn’t stay away after retirement, and is now in her sixth year back in the job, although she said the school administrators are in the process of finding a more permanent director.

She said the play is a show she “always wanted to do,” but never had the number of male actors to pull it off. She hadn’t seen other high schools perform the play recently, and thought that it was a good fit for her current students.

“It’s a nonstop fun play,” said Patterson. “Audiences are guaranteed a fun evening.”

The Athens High School Drama Club will perform Charley’s Aunt in the school’s auditorium Thursday, Nov. 12 through Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. each evening. Tickets for students, including Ohio University students, are $5. Adult tickets are $7.