Ever had a bad night?
Well, the nine characters in “Out of Order,” the hilarious new political farce by Theatrikos Theatre Co., are mostly having bad evenings at the plush Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C.—with the possible exception of the waiter Harold (played by Mickey Mercer), who is making very good tips, and the maid Maria (Sheila Rhode), who is enjoying some excitement during her drab workload.
The rest of the characters are trapped in an evening from hell in Room 648 as chaotic events unfold around them in a manner reminiscent of screwball comedies of the 1930 and ’40s.
At the center of this vortex is Richard Willey, a married man, rabid Republican and U.S. Congressman, a role acted with gusto by Richard Gaughan, who is new to Flagstaff and says he got back into theater 12 years ago.
“It’s a demanding role,” says Gaughan. “I depend so much on the interaction with the other actors. Even though there’s a lot of lines, the other actors are supportive of each other. I’m the straight man. I’m having fun seeing how they all are developing these characters.”
The other actors seem to be having fun, too, as does the audience who enjoy lots of laughs during a convoluted plot with much physical comedy.
That story starts when Willey plans to spend the evening with Jane Worthington, a secretary to Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi.
The part is enthusiastically acted by Lana Dittbenner, who was last seen as a prostitute in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at Theatrikos.
Things go disastrously wrong with the romantic plans of Willey when a body in undetermined condition is discovered trapped in a very unreliable hotel window.
In the role of the Body, longtime Theatrikos actor Dennis Hattem also has to juggle his other role as director of the play.
Helping him pull off both those daunting jobs is Becky Daggett, assistant director.
“I’ve enjoyed doing this,” says Hattem. “I like doing comedies. In this one, I get to do a little of both acting and directing. Becky helps out and is more like a co-director than assistant director. She has a really good eye.”
Rehearsals went well and Daggett was confident.
“I’ve probably seen this show 35 or 40 times, and I still laugh,” she says at the end of one of the final rehearsals. “I’ve just seen amazing things come out of these actors. I think they’ll rock it!”
Back at the Ritz-Carlton, the plot thickens as an avaricious waiter, a suspicious hotel manager, an alert private detective, an angry wife, a furious husband and a suspicious nurse are thrown into the mix.
Desperately trying to get out of a potentially headline-making situation, Willey calls for his assistant, George Pigden, very amusingly portrayed by Nick Rabe.
Poor Pigden, an innocent at the start of the play, is unwittingly transformed into a veritable playboy through the course of the production.
“I’m sweating bullets tonight,” comments Rabe near to the July 27 opening night. “I’m a wreck tonight. Every night I end up just in shambles.”
He is also covered in lipstick from Nurse Gladys Foster, who is his mother’s caretaker.
The nurse character is played by Amanda DeLano, whose amorous acting during rehearsals accidentally broke Pigden’s prop glasses several times.
Also enjoying some erotic moments with Pigden is Pamela Willey, the Congressman’s wife, played by Adrienne Bischoff.
“Richard’s trying to have an affair on her, but she ends up being more lucky in love than he is,” explains Bischoff, who came in May with Gaughan toFlagstafffromCalifornia.
They both auditioned for this play their second week here after seeing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at Theatrikos.
“It’s been an incredible immersion into the community,” she says. “It feels exactly like family. It’s a nice way to put down roots quickly.”
Written by English playwright Ray Cooney, “Out of Order” opened in 1990 with British stars and was set in a posh London hotel. It enjoyed a long run at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
“This comedy plays on all themes found in politics throughout the ages: Lust, power, cover-ups,” Hattem says in the Theatrikos press release. “These games and general tomfoolery make fertile material for writers to poke fun at. In the game of politics, nobody is above the fray.”
Theatrikos, a community theater, welcomes new blood.
“You do two or three plays in a row, and your other life suffers,” he explains. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to get newer people, like Adrienne and Richard!”
The Theatrikos production of “Out of Order” runs through Aug. 12, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The play is in two acts, with an intermission, and runs about two hours. Audiences should be aware that this production contains adult humor and situations. All performances are in the Doris Harper-White Community Playhouse, 11 W. Cherry Ave.
Evening performances are $14 to $17, and matinees are $12 to $15. Seniors (65 and older) and students (with ID) receive a $3 discount for all performances. There is a $1 per ticket facility fee, which supports preservation of the facility.
For more information and tickets, call 774-1662, or visit www.theatrikos.com.
Additional photos for this story:
Nick Rabe, playing the innocent George Pigden, pretends to be caring for his fake brother Fred, played by Dennis Hattem, who is really a private detective in bad shape.
Richard Willey, a U.S. Congressman played by Richard Gaughan, is threatened by Ronnie, played by Rob Peters, who tells him the private detective he hired will be “keeping his eyes” on Willey.
Dennis Hattem plays “The Body,” a very confused person who doesn’t know if he’s coming or going after being clobbered by a hotel window that falls on his head. He’s waking up in a wheelchair and doesn’t know why during Act 2.
Mickey Mercer, playing the hotel waiter Harold, enters through the defective window in Room 648, bringing champagne and oysters for hotel guests who have gotten themselves in a real mess.