Featuring quirky and endearing characters, the PVI Players of Paul VI Catholic High School present “The Curious Savage.” Show times are Friday-Saturday, April 3-4.
“Ethel Savage’s adult children put her into a sanitarium because they’re afraid she’ll blow the family fortune, which she’s converted into bonds and hidden somewhere,” said Director Katherine Miller. “The other patients are charming, lovable and eccentric, whereas the so-called sane, civilized and sophisticated people on the outside lack humanity, empathy, imagination and compassion.”
“All her family is interested in is the money,” said Miller. “And it becomes a question of who’s crazy and who’s sane. The play is very funny and fast-paced, but also serious in spots and thought-provoking.”
The story takes place in 1950s New York and has 12 people in each of the regular and understudy casts, plus a dozen in the crew. They’ve been rehearsing since January, and Miller says things are coming along great.
“It’s a challenging play because, often, a lot of people are on stage at once,” she said. “But student director Adam Laub has been incredibly hardworking and dedicated. He has a terrific sense of humor and the students respect him.”
Laub has acted before, but always wanted to direct, so he volunteered. “I had to write a proposal of my interpretation of the play and its characters,” said Laub, a senior. “Now I tell the actors where to stand, what to do, make sure their acting’s realistic and they know their lines and correct anything that’s wrong.”
He particularly enjoys “giving people a sliver of an idea and watching what they do with it. It’s incredible to see what they come up with and how far they can take it.” Laub has also learned a lot about directing. “When I’m acting, I don’t think as much about the way I’m standing,” he said. “Now I see how much the littlest twist of your body, or how you say something, can change everything. So now I focus on the particulars.”
Playing 60-ish Ethel Savage is freshman Sean Pugerude. “I would have been happy with any role and getting to act with the upperclassmen,” she said. “I’m so excited.”
She said Ethel’s not crazy, just really quirky and flamboyant. “She sees the best in people and wants them to see the best in themselves,” said Pugerude. “And she wants everyone’s foolish dreams to come true. She’s open-minded and nice to all the crazy people she meets, but likes to irritate her children.”
Although Pugerude has many lines to memorize, she likes her role because “you can get creative with it [since] Ethel has a special relationship with every person on stage.” She’s also thrilled that her character has blue hair. “I’m going to dye my own hair blue,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
Junior Alexandra Dent plays Fairy May, who’s in her 20s and is the most eccentric person in the asylum. “She’s extremely attention-seeking and makes up absurd stories to draw attention to herself,” said Dent. “She believes she’s beautiful but, because of her hair, ridiculous makeup and strange, unusual, mismatched clothes, she’s made herself ugly.”
She’s enjoying her part and hoped to be cast as an asylum member because “I’ve usually played serious roles, not comedic. Now, I got the most extravagant one of all, and I’m having a blast playing her.”
Portraying Titus Savage, Ethel’s oldest child, in his early 40s, is senior Jason Donahoe. “He’s a senator from Massachusetts and extremely power hungry,” said Donahoe. “He’ll go to any lengths to control any situation, regardless of morals.”
“Which is why I decide to put my mother in an insane asylum, because she’s taking control from me,” Donahoe said. “She plans on giving away our entire estate to strange charities, and I feel this is the best way to prevent it.”
Donahoe said many of his past roles have been “a jerk with a comb-over,” so this one’s similar. Since he has relatives from New England, he easily picked up the accent.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I like how Titus has a blatant disregard for anyone’s feelings except his own, which is in contrast to the person I try to be in real life.” He works hard to keep each performance fresh and is pleased to get to “emote and be big and loud.”
As a whole, said Donahoe, “The play is extremely charming – especially the way the characters in the insane asylum are introduced and developed throughout the show. It almost makes the audience fall in love with them.”