Comedy and “joyful exuberance” are the design of Alluvion Stage Company’s “The Rivals,” which ran through March 23 in the Tower Theater.
Cast member John Thomas Filegar, who played the character of Captain Jack Absolute, described the play as “a comedy of manners” set in 18th century Bath, England.
“The comedy is full of ridiculous characters who are thrown into the most amusing situations and rivalries,” Filegar said.
The play is based on the experiences of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the author of the play, and is a humorous retelling of when he courted his wife, according to Liberty University’s Theatre Arts Department.
“(The play is) an absolute hoot,” actress Lindsey Register said. “Never have I seen and enjoyed so much witty humor in my life.”
For Register and the rest of the cast, the process of preparing for “The Rivals” began long before opening night. Anderson Pusey, who played the character of Faulkland, said the play’s initial auditions required the hopeful actors to perform sixteen bars of a song and a 30-second monologue. Directors then decided who got a callback and had the chosen actors perform a scene from “The Rivals” or a similarly structured play in front of a director.
“There are hours upon hours of preparation that go into a show, especially a show like this,” Pusey said. “I spent the first few weeks before the show studying the language … and my relationship with the other characters. Following that, we had four-hour rehearsals every night and on weekends, and outside of rehearsal, I would spend at least an hour memorizing my lines.”
Caleb Towns, who played the character of Sir Lucius O’Trigger, said actors had to work hard to learn how to speak the older English used in the play. They also had to learn to speak in a British accent, with the exception of Towns, who had to learn an Irish accent instead.
“I love being an Irish character,” Towns said. “I have always loved accents and playing characters with them.”
He added that some of the actors also had to learn a bit of swordplay, which he greatly enjoyed.
Filegar said the show’s production members also put in a great deal of time to help prepare for the opening of the show.
“Our crew has provided us with everything we need to succeed, but most importantly support,” Register said. “Our staff has constructed the most lovely, detailed sets, elaborate costumes and a precise light and sound plot.”
All four actors expressed enthusiasm for the wit and humor of the play, as well as a sincere hope that the audience would enjoy the show.
“I think audiences will fall in love with the quirkiness of the characters, be amused by their antics and walk out of the theater being glad that they walked in,” Pusey said.
Towns added that students should see the play not just for enjoyment but also to open their minds to classic pieces of art and theater.
“Too often we get caught up with the newest and flashiest, but it is very worthwhile to broaden your mind and get a real look at a historical play,” Towns said. “Even a really goofy one like ‘The Rivals.’”