All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Ben Andre, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology reviews “The Man Who Came to Dinner” performed by Thomas Edison High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.
Imagine a guest from hell, one who never leaves and wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone around him. A cantankerous house guest and a motley crew of eccentric visitors turn an ordinary household into a tumultuous whirlwind of frivolous antics and insult-laden sparring.
The Man Who Came to Dinner, performed at Thomas Edison High School, was written by Moss Hart and George Kaufman, and debuted on Broadway in 1939. A comedy, the story centers on the sharp-witted Sheridan Whiteside, a celebrated New York critic and radio personality. While visiting Mesalia, Ohio, Whiteside reluctantly accepts a dinner invitation from the wealthy Ernest Stanley. When he slips and falls on the icy front doorsteps of the Stanley mansion, Whiteside must reside with the Stanleys during his recuperation, setting the stage for an incessant tide of outlandish and merciless banter. Regrettably, the Stanleys must endure Whiteside’s obnoxious and conniving quips as well as his ensemble of strange but interesting visitors.
Whiteside, portrayed by Nathan Vasquez, unquestionably stole the show. Vasquez exuded a commanding stage presence and impressively represented Whiteside as an egocentric control freak, with his screwball flair. His tone of voice accurately captured Whiteside’s rude and condescending personality, and his overbearing and haughty mannerism was captivating as he brought the character to life.
The talented supporting cast also amazed the audience, with standout performances by Parker Collins as Lorraine Sheldon and Matthew Kaufax as Bert Jefferson. Their quick tongue-in-cheek dialogues with Whiteside, along with their colorful style, stirred an infectious laughter from the audience. Pedro Silva, who portrayed Beverly Carlton, brought an unmistakable presence to the stage. His vivacity and spirit were consistently high, making up for some other actors’ low energy levels. Harriet Stanley, played by Adrianna Watson, was also delightful to watch. Although her character was intentionally much more toned down than others, Watson added in flamboyant physicality that enhanced her character and gave her a unique style.
The costumes and props reflected the style of the 1930s, with the ornately adorned furnishings and wardrobe. The exceptionally designed living room resembled - to a tee - an upper class residence from the 1930s. One minor detail that was especially astounding was the snow strewn on the shoulders of Bert Jefferson’s jacket when he walked in the house from the snowy outdoors. This kind of attention to detail was admirable. Overall, the tech crew created a superb set that prominently depicted the lifestyle of the rich and famous during this time period.
After running amuckk at the Stanley household, Whiteside finally departs only to suffer yet another slip and fall. This insanely hilarious twist keeps the audience roaring in laughter until the very end. With a talented cast and extraordinary tech support, Thomas Edison’s brilliant production brought a well-deserved standing ovation from audience members.