Don’t Dress for Dinner capstone at EWU


Erik Rotness

Bernard (senior Matthew Scott) makes plans to conceal his affair with help from a reluctant Robert. Robert watched, refused and promptly jumped on Bernard.

By Erik Rotness, A&F Editor

With a “who’s on first” style of comedy and confusion, the EWU theatre capstone class offers a study reprieve with “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” opening June 7 at the University Theatre Main Stage.

The sex farce, set in a renovated, 1950-60’s French barn, features a married couple trying to cover up their affairs when their paramours end up in the same house for dinner.

“It’s a comedy about love, and definitely about passion and how passion can shape into all sorts of things, whether it be love, anger, sex or joy,” senior and actress Hannah McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin plays Suzette, a cook for a catering company who ultimately becomes entangled in the string of alibis.

“She is a chaotic good,” McLaughlin said. “She definitely creates chaos in a very fun way. She knows how to play the whole feminine charm part, and then flip it.”

The 10 members of the theatre capstone class began planning the production during fall quarter. The class was tasked with putting on a full realized production on their own, including lights, a set and costumes.

“The cool thing is, (in) the theatre capstone, our professors basically say ‘do whatever you want,’” director and senior Scott Worley said.

The class decided on “Don’t Dress for Dinner” because the majority of the students wanted a fun night at the theatre to share. The idea is to allow students to take a break from the stress of school and just laugh, according to Worley.

“This specific style of theatre is really akin to sitcoms and that high comedy, that fast paced comedy that a lot of us really like,” Worley said. “That’s what we want to do when we want to kick back and just not think for a little bit.”

Once the show was picked, production meetings began to decide how it would look.

“For me, that (was) just a lot of note taking,” said Lysbeth Neel, senior, stage manager and fundraising head.

As part of the project, the capstone class was required to raise the show’s funds. They had access to the EWU theatre, but the reality is that theatre costs money.

Neel took charge of the fundraisers and has been working to fund the production since fall quarter. For primarily every show, Neel organized bake sales. The most profitable fundraiser involved getting local businesses to donate items that Neel would raffle off in baskets. A connection of Neel’s even offered dance lessons to be auctioned.

“The fundraising part I took on primarily because (of) my sister,” Neel said. “My sister has done event planning for years and I’ve helped her and helped my mom before. There’s only like 10 of us in capstone, (so) we kind of try to ask the people who have the skills that will get the job done.”

Because most of the items were donated, the fundraisers performed well and the class raised over $3,700 according to Neel.

Putting the play together has been challenging in many different ways.

Erik Rotness
“Don’t Dress for Dinner” is set in a 1950-60’s converted French barn. Audience members are placed around the thrust stage, allowing them to feel like they’re in the home.

“We’re sitting here in a 1960s French comedy in a thrust, which is a totally different type of theatre,” Neel said. “You have a three sided audience, and so there’s so many different aspects to it. You have to really think about where actors are coming in and on. You have to think about timing.”

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” features a number of fights, which senior and actor Jonah Wilkinson said has been particularly difficulty.

“I haven’t acted in like three years,” Wilkinson said. “Getting back on the stage is a good experience but it’s a little bit of a challenge—especially the fight choreography. It’s really fun, but getting it down is kind of tricky.”

Wilkinson plays George, Suzette’s husband.

“The only description of (George) in the script is, ‘he is large,’” Wilkinson said. “He’s almost like a Ron Swanson type, but a little younger. He’s pretty calm and quiet until he gets jealous.”

And when George gets jealous, it gets a bit intense. Ultimately, the speed and chaos of the play make it what it is.

“It’s go go go,” said Malene Hundley, senior, scenic designer and technical director. “It’s nonstop. From the very beginning till the end, like, it’s a whirlwind that you’re taken on as an audience member. I love the pace.

The play where everything that can go wrong will go wrong runs free of charge on June 7-8 at 7:30 p.m. in the EWU theatre.