Alliance Theatre’s ‘Laughing Stock’

Alliance Theatre’s ‘Laughing Stock’

A hilarious look at putting on a show.

Members of The Alliance Theatre portray the cast of a summer-repertory company rehearsing for a show.

Members of The Alliance Theatre portray the cast of a summer-repertory company rehearsing for a show. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong in The Alliance Theatre’s production of "Laughing Stock." But that’s the way it’s supposed to be as the local thespians portray members of a theater company putting on three different plays during their summer season.

It’s an affectionate glimpse at what it takes to put on a show. And when scenes and characters from "Dracula," "Hamlet" and "Charley’s Aunt" accidentally get jumbled together, laugh-out-loud comedy is the result.

"It gives the audience a look into a part of theater they don’t get to see," said Director Zina Bleck. "The script is extremely well-written, with wonderful comedy that’s absolutely hilarious. The audience will have as much fun as the actors are having on stage."

The cast and crew of nearly 30 have been rehearsing since January, and Bleck says things are going well. "They’re a tight-knit team and have gotten to know each other, both on and off stage, and that brings them closer as performers," she explained. "They trust each other enough to take chances on stage, which makes the show more real and interesting for the audience."

And just as art often imitates life, Producer Maggie Swan says the play’s about "how the community-theater group you’re working with becomes your family. It has all the different personality types – and we can relate to people in our own theater group in this show."

Calling it both funny and witty, Swan said, "When I read this play, I just loved it." Because the theater troupe is trying to perform three plays at once, she said, "Lines and scenes get mixed up. For example, as Dracula prepares to bite someone’s neck, someone from ‘Charley’s Aunt’ comes in and offers him tea."

Fair Oaks resident Michelle Ballard plays Kate Conlan, the managing director of The Playhouse in New England, where the summer-repertory shows are being staged. "She’s a bit of a theater geek and a numbers cruncher," said Ballard. "She cares less about the personalities that tread the boards than about how well the machinery of the theater troupe functions."

Show Timings

The play will be presented in the Mountain View High School theater, 5775 Spindle Court in Centreville (off Braddock Road and behind Glory Days Grill). Show times are Friday-Saturday, March 16-17, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 18, at 2 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, March 23-24, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 25, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16, adults; $14, children 12 and under, and senior citizens 65 and over. Go to boxoffice@thealli...

"She makes sure there are enough pencils, the Coke machines are filled, etc.," said Ballard. "But all these logistics become the bane of her existence, and she doesn’t miss an opportunity to tell the others how important the minutiae are.

Delighted to be cast in this show, Ballard is thrilled with her part. "I love it," she said. "I’m a veteran musicals actor, and this is my first straight role. It’s different from anything I’ve played before. Kate provides comedic relief in the play because she’s so detail-focused and takes it a bit too far, so she’s a laughable character."

Ballard said the play has "great zingers and one-liners" and will be fun for the audience to watch. "They’ll enjoy the debacle of the wannabe actors falling all over themselves," she said. "They’ll also like getting a peek behind the scenes at repertory actors – and the comedy that ensues when things go wrong."