A play filled with drama, love, and many laughs, the Blair Academy Players’ production of Christopher Fry’s Ring Round the Moon was a smashing success. I had the pleasure of attending the performance on not one, but two nights, and was left with smiles and laughter even after my second time seeing the show. Being a huge supporter of the theatre, I was quite excited to see the Players’ execution of this complex, yet extremely witty play. I’ll admit, I was slightly hesitant, at first, to see a play and not a musical, but there was never a dull moment in the Blair Academy Players’ performance on stage. The plot, which takes place during a glamorous high society ball in the 1950’s, centers around the wealthy, devilishly handsome Hugo (Mike Park ‘16) and his scheme to break off the engagement of his kind-hearted twin brother, Frederic (also Mike Park ‘16), to the sassy beauty Diana (Tiffany Sharma ‘16). Hugo uses the innocence and beauty of young ballet dancer, Isabelle (Emmila Hastings ‘17), to distract Frederic from his fiance, while he sets his sights on Diana. Things go awry when Isabella finds herself falling in love with the wrong brother, Hugo, and the twins’ elderly aunt Madame Desmortes (Lizzie Devlin ‘16) learns of his plans, and embarks on her own scheming. The relatively small cast, which consisted of a mere sixteen students, provided an intimate and comfortable atmosphere for the audience. Though the play neared three hours long, I found myself laughing and giggling to the very end, never bored or confused by the complexity of the plot.
Seeing my peers and friends on stage, completely immersed in the identity of their characters, and never faltering for a second during their numerous lines, left me in pure awe and admiration. Every character in this play had a part in making the performance as comical and endearing as it was. Mike Park ‘16 executed the two characters of twin brothers Hugo and Frederic with an effortless ease. One scene he would appear on stage as the cold and sarcastic Hugo, then in the next as the sweet, love-consumed Frederic. During one particular scene at the ball, Hugo leaves Isabelle in tears when he forces her to act love consumed with Frederic, but as Hugo leaves the stage and Frederic appears, Mike transformed himself into his other character and swoops in to comfort Isabelle. Lizzie Devlin’s ‘16 portrayal of the elderly, sharp aunt Madame Desmortes, was quite a sight to see. From her accent to her makeup, Lizzie’s mere glance out into the audience, received buckets of laughs and left me rolling in my seat. She was the true embodiment of a wealthy octogenarian, but also managed to add humor and wit to liven up her performance. Tiffany Sharma ‘16 added to the cast as the epitome of sass and beauty playing Diana, as well as her on stage “rival,” the innocent and enchanting ballet dancer Isabelle, played by Emmila Hastings ‘17. Their elegance and elaborate costumes left me wanting to attend a 1950’s society ball. And one can’t forget the showstopping fight scene between the two, filled with screams and shoves, that came as quite a bit of a surprise to the unexpecting audience. The cast also included Brianna Annunziata ‘16 as the vain, self-absorbed mother of Isabelle; Eric Meskin ‘17 as the loyal and humble butler Joshua; Sadie Britton ‘16 as the sweet and bubbly Capulet; and Ernesto Lippert ‘18 as the anxious patron Romainville. The side story focusing on the affair between characters Lady India, played by Haley Callahan ‘17, and Patrice, played by Charlie Stafford ‘17, made for a playful addition to the production, and left me giggling each time they graced the stage. Harry Moore ‘17 rounded off the cast as Messerschmann, the confident, wealthy father of Diana. He provided the audience with many laughs for his character’s strange obsession with noodles, particularly with no salt and no butter.
If you weren’t able to see the play, you truly missed out on some of the best acting I’ve seen in a Blair production. From the cast and characters, to the set and costumes, this play was enjoyable until the end.
(Copyright 2015 Emme McCrink)