Summer theater opens with "Don't Dress for Dinner"

Central Michigan University’s summer repertory theater company opened their season with “Don’t Dress for Dinner” at Bush Theatre on June 24. The comedy entertained an audience of around 225.

Written by Marc Camoletti and adapted for the stage by Robin Hawdon, the story revolved around a couple named Bernard and Jacqueline. At the opening of Act 1, Jacqueline is about to go on a trip out of town to see her mother for the weekend.

Since Bernard knew she was going to be absent that weekend, he planned in advance to have his mistress, Suzanne, spend the weekend with him. Bernard ordered a temporary cook, Suzette, to provide service to them for part of the weekend, and he set up his friend Robert to come over to be his alibi.

Robert telephones as Jacqueline is on her way out the door. She answers, and they discuss their weekend plans. Jacqueline knows he is planning on spending the weekend with Bernard. As the two talk, it becomes obvious that Robert and Jacqueline are having an affair.

Right as Jacqueline is leaving to go see her mother, the telephone rings again and it is the agency Suzette is hired through, confirming that she is on her way to the house. Jacqueline becomes suspicious and cancels her trip to see her mother.

Bernard panics and asks Robert once he arrives to tell Jacqueline that he is having an affair with Suzanne, who is about to arrive at any minute. Bernard’s attempts to cover up his affair makes the show turn into a game of mistaken identity.

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” was directed by CMU professor of interpretation, Elaine Daugherty. Daugherty said she was happy with the first performance of the show.

“You watch growth for several weeks, then you let go and hope it runs,” Daugherty said. “They did a really great job tonight, and they had a really responsive audience…when you rehearse comedy, there is no way to plan for where the laughs will actually come.

“When there are people there suddenly laughing, sometimes they laugh at things you don’t think are funny in rehearsal, so you have to find a way to kind of accommodate that moment.”

Katrina Thennes, 21, of Garden and a musical theater major admitted she almost laughed a few times while playing her character Jacqueline for the first time in front of an audience.

“Opening night was a lot of fun,” Thennes said. “We haven’t practiced with an audience at all so we did not know when or where or how much laughter to expect…I almost cracked a couple of times, but it was great.”

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” can be seen at 7:30 p.m. June 27 at Bush Theatre, 8 p.m. on July 9 at Beaver Island Community Center, and at 7:30 p.m. on July 16 at Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall.


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