February 12, 2014 - Given how cold, snowy and relentless this winter's been, it seems like everybody could use a good laugh these days.
Meet the cast of "Wait, Wait . . . I Can Explain" – Seated (from left): Abbie Smiles, Joe Wilkins, Jacob Donovan, Amanda Morrison, Nick McLeod and Ka'von Jackson. Standing (from left): Anna Cobble, Kieran Clark, Georgia Waters, Chloe Lopiccolo, Katie Sovis, Jack Jamieson, Connor DeMarco, Josh Krol and Fionna Corcoran. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Fortunately, the Oxford Middle School Drama Club will be providing tons of yuks when it presents its production of "Wait, Wait . . . I Can Explain" on Thursday, Feb. 13 and Friday, Feb. 14 at the high school's Performing Arts Center. Both shows start at 7:01 p.m.
"One of the things I really like about this (play) is the pace," said Drama Club Advisor and Director Jack Gray. "It's a very quick, sharp show and it's got a lot of heart to it."
Tickets are $5 for adults. Children and students are free.
"Wait, Wait . . . I Can Explain" follows the story of Jason, a hapless character who hires a troupe of actors to play the part of his family. He wants to impress his new girlfriend, Sheila, by making her think he comes from the perfect family.
Chaos, lunacy and hilarity ensue when Jason's real family unexpectedly shows up and the awkward fun begins.
In the spirit of 'the show must go on,' the actors do their best to stay in character and hold things together, but things quickly unravel.
"It's one of the few plays I've ever done where every single rehearsal is funny," Gray said. "The jokes really hold up. Something you've heard 30 times is still funny just because of the way it's played out."
Gray began working on the annual OMS plays as an assistant director in 2001. He took over as director in 2004.
He feels this play is "definitely is one of the best I've ever done." He said it offered a "rare opportunity" to produce something that's "cleverly written" with "more mature humor," yet still "appropriate for middle school kids."
"It's definitely not any sort of pageant where you're giving tons of kids roles, but we did try to include as many as possible," he said. "I have a really good group of young actors. I wanted to showcase some of their quick wit and humor."
Eighth-grader Jacob Donovan plays the lead male role of Jason. "He is fantastic," Gray said. Eighth-grader Amanda Morrison plays the lead female role of Sheila. "She is equally sharp and funny," Gray said.
Gray noted there are several scene-stealing character roles that will leave the audience laughing out loud. "It was really, really entertaining when I read it," he said.
The OMS play has faced some challenges this year such as having its performances scheduled for mid-February instead of the usual last week in April and missed rehearsals due to weather-related school cancellations.
But through it all, the students have worked hard to overcome these obstacles and are ready to put on a terrific show, in Gray's estimation.
"Their timing is excellent," he said. "A really important part of the show is timing and I really feel like they've nailed that."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.