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How theater really works

--- Independent thespian group presents "Laughing Stock"

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published August 1, 2007, 2:58 p.m.)


It's opening night and the audience whispers as they wait for the show to begin.

The curtain opens, the props set the scene as the characters reveal themselves and the story takes off.

To the audience it seems to flow-oh, if they only knew.

"What the audience sees on stage is so far from the theater experience," said Alex Scheurell. "We're putting the show together right up until the last second. That's how theater really works."

Scheurell, of Delavan, attends UW-Milwaukee majoring in theater. He's taken on the role as producer of this year's Walworth County Autonomous Collective of Thespians (WACT) summer performance.

Though it may seem like it, "Laughing Stock" was not chosen because the story so closely resembles this season's production.

"It's the funniest thing," Scheurell says about the similarities between "Laughing Stock" and WACT this year. Leaders from years past have moved on to the next stages of their lives, leaving big shoes for the newcomers to fill.

"Scheduling rehearsals was a big proble-three actors had to drop out, we had to redo auditions and our stage crew is only three overworked people-just like the show," he said laughing.

"It's so funny how all of this worked out."

"Laughing Stock" is a frantic and hilarious backstage farce about a summer real theater group who chooses to perform "Dracula" for their summer show. The audience follows the creation of a theatrical performance, from the first ego-driven auditions to the opening night filled with disaster, triumph and pride.

"You get to three weeks before the show and you realize, 'Oh my God, it's only three weeks before the show.'

"Then opening night comes and everything falls in place and you wonder, 'How in the world did this happen?'

"That's theater-the things that happen before the show are half the fun, most of the stress."

"Laughing Stock," performed by WACT, will open at the Walworth County Performing Arts Center, Elkhorn, on Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Following shows are Aug. 4, 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. Admission is free while donations to finance next year's show are gladly accepted. For more information, call (262) 853-0635 or e-mail wacttheatre@gmail.com.

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Timeline of a live theatrical performance

Ten weeks before opening night: Organizers meet to discuss this season's show. "Laughing Stock" by Charles Morey is chosen.

Eight weeks before opening night: Networking for actors to fill the roles is in full swing.

Six weeks before opening night: Auditions are held and all roles are filled.

Five weeks before opening night: Several cast members can't work rehearsals into their schedules. Second unplanned auditions held. All roles refilled.

Five to three weeks before opening night: Rehearsals with small groups of cast members begin working out the story.

Three weeks before opening night: First full-cast rehearsals and set construction advances nightly 8-11 p.m.

One week before opening night: Costumes are finalized and scripts are mastered. Technical cues are worked in; props, costumes and special effects are double and triple checked; blocking and any other imperfections are perfected.

Five days before and up until opening night: Full dress rehearsals and final details are put into place.

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Cast

Gordon Page - Evan Koepnick

Jack Morris - Chris Warren

Susannah Huntsmen - Jazmin Vollmar

Mary Pierre - Jessica Woodburn

Tyler Taylor - Morgan Foley

Vernon Volker - Dave Franz

Richfield Hawksley - Matt Hackbarth

Daisy Coates - Amber Boardman

Craig Conlin - Andy Perkins

Sarah McKay - Jesi Nelson

Henry Mills - Pat Johnson

Katie Braun - Katie Lile

Karma Schneider - Liz Accola

Ian Milliken - Paul Watson

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WACT

Walworth County Autonomous Collective of Thespians (WACT) is a theater group, now in its fourth season, formed to engage actors in the upper high school through five years out age group in all aspects of creating a theatrical performance.

Their goal is a completely autonomous acting group able to be as independent as theatrically possible with their work.

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IF YOU GO

What: "Laughing Stock" play performed by WACT.

Where: Walworth County Performing Arts Center, Elkhorn.

When: Aug. 3-4, 10-11, at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 12 at 2 p.m.

Tickets: Free admission; donations accepted.

Info: For more information, call (262) 853-0635 or e-mail

wacttheatre@gmail.com.

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