After all the drama and serious conversations that have floated through the air this past year, some laughter and happiness are well overdue.
Minnesota State University, Mankato’s theater department brings some much-needed comedic craze to the stage in the newest show, “Hay Fever.” This British comedy written by Noel Coward centers on the Bliss family, an artistic family that breathes drama into everyday situations. When each family member invites a guest to stay at their country house, chaos ensues.
The overall comedic aspect of the play was what drew MNSU junior, Hunter Conrad, to join the cast. Conrad plays Sandy Tyrell, a guest who is invited to the Bliss family’s house for the weekend, but struggles to fit in their upper-class world.
“He understands that he isn’t a part of their social class and he has a hard time figuring out what to do and follows in Mrs. Bliss’ footsteps,” said Conrad. “He tries to figure out what he’s supposed to do in the higher class family and fake punches people all the time.”
Having a lighthearted comedy was important for Caron to have included in the playbill. Caron believes that having the 100-year-old show is an oldie but a goodie that audiences will enjoy.
“It’s a fun, light play that I think is appropriate for the times we are living in,” said Caron. “We live with a lot of seriousness in our lives right now and I hope the audience comes in and has a little reprieve from the real world for a while.”
One of the jokes of the show is that the family, consisting of an artist, author and retired actress, is the overdramatized stereotype of people in the performing arts lifestyle. MNSU senior and BFA acting major Malea Hanson plays Sorel Bliss, the 19-year-old hotheaded daughter of the Bliss family. Hanson found the idea of poking fun at performers in character a weird but fun experience.
“You think of yourself as this type of theater person and then you go out on stage and you are another type of theater person,” laughed Hanson. “[Mankato’s] theater students are mostly chill, so it’s interesting to play a different type of theater person who’s more extravagant and wants everything to be perfect.”
With zany situations and a lot of laughs, the hope for “Hay Fever” is that audiences are able to come out and enjoy themselves while making jokes at the stereotypical portrayal of performing artists.
“The show isn’t very heavy on the heart and I think it’s going to be nice to have some comedic relief and have everyone come out and relax,” shared Conrad. “I want them to walk away with a smile on their face and to come back to Mankato Theatre.”
“Hay Fever” runs in the Ted Paul Theatre starting on Nov. 4 through Nov. 6 and again Nov. 11 through Nov. 14 with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and children under 16, and $12 for MNSU students.
Header Photo: “Hay Fever” is a British comedy play that follows the Bliss family as they breathe drama into every ordinary situation. Performing in the Ted Paul Theatre, MNSU students are getting into character. (Emily Lansman/The Reporter)