Most staged readings only get a few hours rehearsal. For Sunday night’s reading of “Klaus,” my darkly comic show about the origin of Santa Claus, the Hollins Playwright’s Lab has arranged for four days worth of rehearsal — and brought in Chicago director Cheryl Snodgrass to helm the proceedings.
Here are some photos from Friday night’s second rehearsal, on the June M. McBroom Theatre stage at Community High School in Roanoke, Va.:
The show has a strong science fiction element to it. Here, Mary the landlady (Martha Boswell) stares up to discover all her cutlery is stuck to the ceiling. Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sullivan) is overjoyed at the success of his experiment with magnetism.
“Klaus” is heavy on special effects, which are hard to do in a staged reading. So stage manager Melissa Kennedy will be onstage handling many of the sound effects, much like the narrator in a radio play.
Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sullivan) ventures out into the audience to deliver toys to children. Well, you’ll have to imagine the toys. But he’s made them himself in his workshop.
Here’s another special effect you’ll have to imagine. Will Coleman, playing a college student in the 1700s, carries a torch in the climactic scene. That’s one of his fellow classmates, played by Kevin McAlexander, at left, and stage manager Melissa Kennedy in the background.
Director Cheryl Snodgrass.
Rehearsals started Thursday night for Sunday night’s staged reading of “Klaus,” my darkly comic Christmas play on the origin of Santa Claus that the Hollins Playwright’s Lab is putting on.
Here are some photos:
The headmaster of a failing British college (Ross Laguzza, in black) catches three students (Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton and Will Coleman) carousing in an ale-house. Worse, they’re holding their glasses (which you’ll have to imagine for now) over water glasses, a favorite trick of those in the 1700s who believed the true royal family was the ousted House of Stuart, not the reigning House of Hanover. Jacobites, as the Stuart supporters were called, famously toasted “the king over the water.” The show deals with the arrival of a mysterious German professor – Professor Klaus — at a college where support for the German-born Hanovers runs thin, and treason runs deep among the students. The headmaster is trying to stamp out such political sentiments in hopes of currying favor with the king — and perhaps a royal bequest to get the college out of debt. That’s also why he brought in Professor Klaus, although he knows next to nothing about him.
More carousing from our ne’er-do-well students, who harbor strong anti-German feelings — when they’re not busy drinking and skipping class and generally causing trouble. From left, Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton and Will Coleman. That’s Ross Laguzza, the headmaster, in the background. This may be the only Christmas show you’ve seen that set partly in an ale-house and includes a reference to a brothel.
Director Cheryl Snodgrass has come in from Chicago to oversee the reading. She specializes in working with new plays.
The show is Sunday, Dec. 16 at the June M. McBroom Theatre at Community High School in downtown Roanoke. It’s also free. More details here. And more photos to come (including, perhaps, one of the actor who plays Klaus!)