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Chantilly Offers 'Don't Drink The Water'

Chantilly High presents a Woody Allen comedy, "Don't Drink the Water," Thursday-Saturday, April 22-24, and April 29-May 1. All six shows are at 7 p.m.; tickets are $5 at the door.

It takes place in the 1960s in an American embassy, behind the Iron Curtain, in Europe. When American tourists take photos there, the Communists think they're spies so they take refuge in the embassy. The play deals with the elaborate escape plans to get them out of the embassy and back home to New Jersey.

"It's a very funny script, and we have very talented kids — enough that we were able to double-cast," said drama director Ed Monk. "And it's our Cappies show, so we hope it'll be especially good that night, April 30."

He said a school can never be sure whether it'll receive a Cappie nomination because "you don't know what the other plays are and what the other critics have seen. So if you get a Cappie, it's gravy. The benefit is the extra acknowledgment the kids get because it's our Cappie play."

SOPHOMORE Faith McAuliffe portrays Sister Drobney, a nun who was chased into the embassy — and stayed for six years. "I'm the narrator, and I practice magic tricks in my tiny room," she said.

"My character's good-natured, but a little spacey," continued McAuliffe. "But when the tourists come, she comes out of her shell, a little, and it's exciting for her to be able to interact with them and be a part of their escape plans. I like the role because it's really fun; I get to create all sorts of character quirks for this unusual part."

For example, since Drobney hasn't seen much of the embassy, she sometimes looks at it instead of at people who are talking to her. "She has lots of idiosyncrasies," said McAuliffe. "It's fun — a much more comic role than I've done in the past, and a lot of physical comedy, too. And the setting is something you wouldn't typically think of as being funny — it's a comic twist on Communism and the Cold War."

Junior Melissa Klein, 17, plays Susan, the daughter of the tourists, Walter and Marion. "She's in her early 20s and really extroverted," said Klein. "She knows what she wants and how to get it." Her problem, said Klein, is that "she's attracted to men who are loser types."

Susan almost married a manic-depressive jazz musician, a draft dodger and a defrocked priest, and she's now attracted to another failure — Axel McGee, the son of the embassy manager. "She likes to be in power in these relationships, and the man need her," explained Klein. "But she knows when to back off."

She said Susan really loves Axel and she likes playing the role because "I've never played such a romantic character before. And they always have to sneak around in the embassy to find a place to be alone. She's not at all shy, and she likes things out of the normal. She finds the humor in bizarre things."

KLEIN SAID the role allows her to demonstrate a wide range of emotions in a small amount of time. And she said the audience should enjoy the show because it's so funny and "even the minor characters have strong accents and physicalities."

Junior David Wyatt, 17, plays caterer Walter Hollander, Susan's father. "I'm kind of stuck up," said Wyatt of his character. "I think I'm always right. I'm hard to handle and impulsive — I say what I feel. In the embassy, I'm angry at the ambassador's son because his ideas to get out aren't very smart. And I'm on edge because, since I've been gone, my catering business is going downhill because my partner is poisoning people."

It's Wyatt's first big role and, he said, "I'm loving it. It's lots of work to come up with how Walter shows his emotions, talks and holds himself, but I like the responsibility. It gives me more to work with, and it's fun to be on stage more than normal. It's a really fun role because he's such a weirdo and so full of himself."

Wyatt says there are lots of jokes that relate to real life so the audience will find the play really funny. "It's goofy all around," he said.

Portraying Axel is senior Matt Jewel, 18. "I'm 30 and kind of a nervous failure who's ruined every opportunity he's had in his life," said Jewel of his role. "Everyone thinks I'm a reject and a loser. At first, I have low self-confidence, but then I rebuild myself when I fall in love with Susan, the caterer's daughter."

HE SAID it's different from most of the characters he's previously played. "I'm usually loud, obnoxious and outgoing, but this character is shy, nervous and reserved," said Jewel. "He makes me laugh. I like his nervous giggles and stupid jokes. He has a lot of energy constantly building up inside, and he never completely gets it out until later in the play — then I take charge."

He says if the audience "comes with a funny bone, they'll enjoy the show. It's Woody Allen — lots of laughs."

Kim Marker, a senior, plays Walter's wife Marion and Susan's mother. She describes her as a nice, middle-aged woman. "She and her husband bicker a lot, but they love each other and have some sincere moments," said Marker. "She loves her family a lot and is close to her daughter."

Although Marion's somewhat awkward and conservative, Marker says she tries being friendly with everyone. "Her husband's hot-tempered, and she tries to make sure he stays in line," she said.

"I love Marion," said Markeer. "I really wanted this part because she's not the classic female role. She's middle-aged, already married and funny. And the relationship with Walter is complicated and a lot of fun to develop." She, too, says the play is a real crowd-pleaser. "The script is hilarious," she said. "The comedy is in the dialogue and the delivery."