‘Hay Fever’ Promises to Drop Jaws

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The world has changed since 1925, but GCC’s theater arts program is proving that family life was just as ridiculously hilarious then as it is today in their rendition of Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” which premiered Thursday.

“Hay Fever,” in typical drawing room style, takes place solely at the home of the Bliss family in the British countryside, and follows four unsuspecting guests as they are exposed to the exaggerated eccentricities of the Bliss family.

The GCC cast counts with the directorial talents of Kim Mowery, as he has spent considerable time in England studying the subtle art of British theatre. Having also been an actor in this play, Mowery says that “Hay Fever” is a “comedy of manners” and the success of the play depends on the delivery of the actors.

“‘Hay Fever’ is all about behavior,” said Mowery, “It’s a bunch of crazy people in one room. Nothing happens, but the people are very funny.”

The nine members of this ensemble cast, without one defined lead role, must play off each other to accentuate the unique comedic attributes of each character.

Alex Wooten, who plays the mother and recently retired actress Judith Bliss, describes her character as “a melodramatic prima donna.” Apart from the possible scene stealing theatrics of Judith, Wooten maintains “that [‘Hay Fever’] is very much an ensemble cast. Every character interacts with each other.”

Reminiscent of many modern works, from Neil Simon’s earlier plays to the overall style of “Seinfeld,” “Hay Fever” examines, with comical insight, the behaviors and interactions between characters.

The punch lines that receive the biggest laughs are deceptively subtle and illustrate the importance of timing and poise in the performance required from the actors; to name a few, “Go on,” “No there isn’t, is there?” and “Nudity can be very beautiful,” said Mario Mason who plays the guest of Sorel Bliss, Richard Geatham.

The cast also includes Jordan Grout as David Bliss, the son, Simon Bliss, who is played by Chris Michael Beltran, and Sorel, the daughter, who is played by Emily Peters. The unfortunate houseguests are played by Meagon Ligons, Mario Mason, Vatche Asmerian, and Tiffany Brain. Jessyca Bluwal has the role of Clara.

A crucial component of the performance is the mastery of the British accent. Mowery, has been coaching the cast in order to develop an authentic-sounding, upper-class British accent. Mowery claims that because “Americans talk in the back of their mouths,” the British accent is best achieved by “dropping the jaw.”

With a sophisticated wit, “Hay Fever” aims to drop, not only the jaws of the cast, but also the jaws of the audience.

“Hay Fever,” opens Thursday, April 27 in the Glendale Community College Auditorium Mainstage Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. on April 28, 29, May 4, 6, 12 and 13. The Sunday matinees are May 7 and 14 at 2 p.m.

Tickets may be reserved in advance or purchased at the box office before each performance for $10 general, $6 students and seniors, and $4 each for groups of 10 or more. Call (818) 240-1000, ext. 5618 for reservations and information.