Prepare for a Night of Bliss When you Catch Hay Fever

Juniors Lisa Davidson, Maxwell Heaton, and Briana Manente make up 3/4 of the theatrical Bliss family whose antics we follow in 1920’s England in the play “Hay Fever. (Photo Courtesy of Mark Rhoda and the TFMS Department)
Juniors Lisa Davidson, Maxwell Heaton, and Briana Manente make up 3/4 of the theatrical Bliss family whose antics we follow in 1920’s England in the play “Hay Fever. (Photo Courtesy of Mark Rhoda and the TFMS Department)

In the Bliss household, a lot of drama goes a long way. The antics this melodramatic family displays in a lively weekend is the fun plot of Neil Coward’s comedy Hay Fever, opening in the Bruce Davis Theater on Thursday, Oct. 14.

Hay Fever takes place in the 1920s in an upper-crust English home: Mother Judith Bliss (Junior Briana Manente), is a recently retired famous actress, her husband David (Sophomore Tobias Franzén) is a mystery writer, and her two children, Sorel (Junior Lisa Davidson) and Simon (Junior Max Heaton), are equally eccentric and theatrical.

When each member invites an unsuspecting guest for the weekend, a flapper (First-year Naomi Garcia ), a diplomat (Junior Jonathan Wagner), a boxer (Sophomore Nick Huber), and sophisticate (Sophomore Emily Moore) all unwittingly participate in theatrical situations that may or may not really exist.

Since the Blisses are all unconventional to begin with, and they certainly don’t change to accommodate their guests, each guest is shocked when their one-on-one weekend turns into a family affair.
According to director Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, the play is based on Laurette Taylor, “an old-school diva,” and the big weekends that she used to have wherein huge arguments would erupt and an hour later everyone would be back to having normal, peaceful conversations. It’s a comedy of manners, and a comedy of language.

Ellis-Tolaydo explains it’s “nothing deep, just a slice of a glorified view of an old theatrical family and how they live.”

He compares it to being invited to Britney Spears house for a weekend with some of your friends and some of her friends and the out of place feeling you’d imagine having.

The play, which opens in a little less than two weeks, is coming along well. “It’s a really great cast; a really wonderful group of actors,” says Ellis-Tolaydo. “We’re all having a jolly time.”

The show will be performed on Oct. 14-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m., and on Oct. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $4 for students, faculty, SMCM staff, senior citizens, or Arts Alliance Members, and $6 for general admission. To reserve tickets, contact the theater box office at 240-895-4243 or email boxoffice@smcm.edu.

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