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Laughing Stock (Comedy)

By Charles Morey

Directed by James Del Priore


January 24, 31 & February 1, and 7– 8 (2014)
(Note- the January 25th show is SOLD OUT)



Catering by Goeglein's Catering


Hot Garlic Bread
Caesar Salad
Spaghetti with Rich Meat Sauce
Key West Blend Vegetables
Italian Crème Cake

Vegetarian dinners available upon request.


About the Show

Laughing Stock is a hilarious backstage farce and genuinely affectionate look into the world of the theatre. When The Playhouse, a rustic New England summer theatre, schedules a repertory season of Dracula, Hamlet and Charley's Aunt, comic mayhem ensues. We follow the well-intentioned but over-matched company from outrageous auditions to ego-driven rehearsals through opening nights gone disastrously awry to the elation of a great play well told and the comic and nostalgic season close.


"Laughing Stock soars as farce…" - Salt Lake City Weekly


"Scene after scene, beat after beat, Laughing Stock piles on the laughs…every single piece crackles with successful wit and abundant humor…virtuoso farce…" - Keene Sentinel New Hampshire


Produced through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc



James Del Priore

James recently directed David Sedaris "The SantaLand Diaries" and "REDfor Working Dog Theatre Group at Wunderkammer Company. He has appeared as Capt. Matthew Markinson in "A Few Good Men" and Vladimir Zworykin in "The Farnsworth Inventionat the Civic Theatre. He last performed at Arena Dinner Theatre as Victor Fleming in the comedy "Moonlight and Magnolias". James is thrilled to be returning to Arena Dinner Theatre as the director of Laughing Stock.


Dotty Miller
Stage Manager

Last summer, Dotty assistant directed “RED” for Working Dog      Theater Group and most recently was seen on First Presbyterian Theater’s stage in their Christmas Revue.  In FPT’s House of Blue Leaves, she was Bananas (which sort of describes her personality) and Brighella in The Servant of Two Masters.  She has also appeared in FW Civic’s Dreamgirls and The Farnsworth Invention.

Directors Notes

It has been a ferocious winter so far in Fort Wayne but Laughing Stock by Charles Morey at Arena Dinner Theatre is a most welcome blast of summer fun. Laughing Stock is a backstage farce that follows the antics of a financially beleaguered New England summer stock theatre troupe called The Playhouse. The Fort Wayne premiere of Laughing Stock is often compared to the British farce Noises Off with a dose of Waiting For Guffman thrown in to keep you laughing throughout.

Gordon (played by Jake Wilhelm), the artistic director in Laughing Stock, has selected three shows to perform within a hectic repertory schedule. He plans to have his cast of players perform Charley’s Aunt one night, Dracula the next, and Hamlet in between for the weekend matinee.

Susannah Huntsmen (Gloria Minnich) portrays the avant-garde director who has been hired to direct Charley’s Aunt. Susannah reveals her modern vision of Charley’s Aunt to a perplexed cast of performers when she announces that she wants to explore the deeper, symbolic “anguish of gender” of Charley’s Aunt. Gordon’s attempt to steer her back toward a more traditional interpretation- “But funny inner torment and rage, right?”- can’t even dent her misguided concept. Soon her reluctant cast are exploring the “primitive” aspects of their Charley’s Aunt characterizations as they improvise being crocodiles, wildebeests, and lions in search of the true meaning of gender identity at an African waterhole.  

Dracula, Prince of the Undead starts off on a more familiar footing but is quickly derailed when Tyler (Joel Grillo) insists on incorporating his method acting skills into his interpretation of the famed vampire. However, even Tyler’s outlandish ‘Dracula meets Brando’ interpretation of his role is upstaged by an independent-minded fog machine, exploding crosses that refuse to explode, and a mechanical bat that just can’t seem to stay airborne.

The Playhouse’s production of Hamlet gets a surprisingly good start until Yorick’s skull gets misplaced somewhere backstage and a cantaloupe is considered as its understudy- “Alas, poor Yorick.”

Laughing Stock is an affectionate, hilarious peek behind the curtain of the lives of summer stock actors, actresses, stagehands, and directors as they navigate friendships, romance, alcohol, humidity and missed cues. We’ll even throw in the sound of crickets and a few annoying mosquitoes to remind you that summertime is just around the corner or at least it is at Arena Dinner Theatre.




Actor Bios

Jake Wilhelm
as Gordon Page

Jake is the father of two beautiful daughters, Mackenzie and Mary. He is a server at Eddie Merlots and the lead vocalist for the band djenetic drift. He was most recently seen on stage at the Civic Theatre as Enjolras in "Les Miserables". Other recent credits include "Almost, Maine" and Chris Colcord's "True Life Christmas Disasters", both at Arena, and the part of Jesus in "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the U. of Saint Francis. He is very pleased to have another opportunity to act in the lovely Arena Theatre.

Sean Arata
as Jack Morris

Sean Arata is a recent graduate of Indiana University and very excited to be making his debut at Arena Dinner Theatre playing Jack Morris. He has spent most of his time on a stage performing with his band Downstait, and recently played Josh in the Civic Theater's production of 9 to 5.!

Gloria Minnich
as Susannah Huntsmen

Gloria's credits include "Stepping Out", "Plaza Suite", "Almost Maine", "Any Wednesday" and others at Arena Dinner Theatre.  She also has appeared in "The Road to Mecca", Durang: 5 comedies in 1, Private Lives and Proof at the Civic Theatre. 

She recently appeared in "Same Time, Next Year" at Arena.

When not onstage, she teaches drama and dance classes at area schools.  She is a member of the Fort Wayne Dance Collective Touring Company. 


Emily O'Rourke
as Mary Pierre

Emily O'Rourke is thrilled to be returning to the Arena stage. Most recently, she appeared in the SantaLand Diaries at Wunderkammer Company and as Maria in Civic's production of 9 to 5. Past Arena credits include Gabriella in Boeing Boeing, and Arena Award winning performances as Elaine Harper in Arsenic in Old Lace and Doatsey Mae in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.


Joel Grillo
as Tyler Taylor

This is Joel's first time on Arena's stage, but he's no stranger to the lime light. Joel Grillo was last seen in WunderKammer "SantaLand Diaries" and "Red." Before that he was a part of First Presbyterian "Mrs. Packard" and Civic's "A Few Good Men" He was the 2006 Sterling Sentinel Award winner for drama. Joel hopes you all get a chance to come out and enjoy the show. 


Jim Nelson
as Vernon Volker

By day, Jim works as a Speech-Language Pathologist for Southwest Allen County Schools. He has worked at most of the theatres in town over the years.  Some of his favorite roles include (but not exclusive to): "Robert" in "Boeing Boeing," "Stanley" in "Caught in the Net," "Pearl/Bertha/" in "A Tuna Christmas," "Clown" in "The 39 Steps" (at Arena); "Mickey" in "The Normal Heart," "Teddy" in "The Homecoming," "Charlie Blossom" in "Working" and "Sam Byck" in "Assassins" (at IPFW).

Tom Corron
as Richfield Hawksley

Tom is retired and prior to moving to Fort Wayne in 2010 was a regular performer at the Des Moines Playhouse in their "Final Act Ensemble" and performed classic and original radio scripts for audiences throughout central Iowa.  He was Old Man / Mr. Frost /  Doctor in "Ramona Quimby" in 2009.  He was also Pastor David (the innkeeper) in "The Christmas Spirit", Le Beau in "As You Like It", Scrooge's father in "An American Christmas Carol", Paul Sycamore in "You Can't Take it With You" and Dottore in "Servant of Two Masters" at First Presbyterian Theatre.

Ellen Akins Schroeter
as Daisy Coates

Ellen Akins Schroeter is excited to be back in Fort Wayne after being away for 20 years. In her former life in the Summit City, Ellen was a news anchor at WANE-TV. Now she's in marketing and sales and can't wait to play the role of Daisy in Laughing Stock. Some of Ellen's favorite roles include Mary in The Women, Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday and the role of Grace in the Best Christmas Pageant Ever where she performed alongside her daughter Mackie. 


Paul Faulkner
as Craig Conlin

Paul's theatrical 'career' began in grade school, taking classes at Fort Wayne Youtheatre from Mr. Harvey Cocks. Paul most recently starred as David in "The Santaland Diaries" at Wunderkammer Company. Prior to that, he appeared in the stage reading 'The Mark of a Dog's Foot,' for the 4th Annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival. He was the voice/silhoutte of Alfred Hitchcock for The 39 Steps at the Civic.   In addition to theatre work, Paul is an accomplished organist and plays for several Lutheran congregations. 
Most of Paul's previous stage credits are from Chicago area stages. Favourite roles there included Bellomy in "The Fantasticks", Mayor Shinn in "The Music Man", and Pontius Pilate in "Jesus Christ Superstar". 

Miranda Wheeler
as Sarah McKay

Miranda appeared on the Arena stage in 2011 as Alice Slone in "Squabbles". Most recently she was seen at FPT as Death in their "Christmas Revue". Other roles include Charmian in "Antony and Cleopatra",  Pem Farnsworth in "The Farnsworth Invention" and her favorite role to date as Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway in Civic's "A Few Good Men".


Cameron Cooper
as Henry Mills

Cameron Cooper has been involved in theatre for the last 5 years. It was his study at Taylor University. While attending Taylor, Cameron has been involved in the productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Butterflies Are Free", "Incident at Vichy"," But Not Destroyed: The Life and Times of Calvin Fairbank", and "Romeo and Juliet". Since graduating from Taylor, Cameron has been involved in the productions of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" presented by The Muncie Civic Theatre and "The Santaland Diaries" presented by The Working Dog Theatre. Hoping to have many journeys ahead, Cameron is actively pursuing theatre wherever he goes in life to find out life's answers.

Bo Geyer
as Braun Oakes

Bo is happy to be back on the Arena stage once again after last appearing as John, in Critics Choice in 2011. His recent productions have included "The Farnsworth Invention", "A Christmas Story", & "Celebrities Act Up 2013", at The Civic Theatre. Also "To Kill a Mockingbird", at the USF Performing Arts Theatre, "Star Crossed" with The Ft. Wayne Dance Collective, and "Santa Clause in Oz", at Youtheatre. In 2013 he won an Anthony Award for his portrayal of Flick in, "A Christmas Story", at The Civic Theatre.


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