On Stage: The Play That Goes Wrong

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

The Play That Goes Wrong

Thursdays are traditionally party nights — “anticipating the weekend” wild nights. Tonight, you can get wild with theater or with music.

If you want to get wild with an evening of laughter, plan a trip to The Playhouse on Rodney Square (10th and Market streets, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-888-0200, www. duponttheatre.com).

Now through March 15, the elegant theater in downtown Wilmington is presenting a theatrical production that leaves people laughing in the aisles – “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, “The Play That Goes Wrong” is a riotous comedy about the theatre. The play introduces The ‘Cornley University Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident-prone thespians battle on against all odds to get to their final curtain call.

The National Tour has a local connection. One of the show’s major roles – Robert — is played by West Chester University grad Michael Thatcher.

“I went to West Chester University from 2006-2012,” said Thatcher, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Elmira, New York.

“I was a music major studying voice. I started in music education but always had a love of theater. I did at least one production a year there. So, I pursued a Masters in acting in 2014 at the University of Houston.”

Thatcher’s professional resume includes shows on Broadway (“The Play That Goes Wrong”), “Julius Caesar,” “The Time Machine”) and National Tours (“The Play That Goes Wrong,” “Guys and Dolls”).

“This leg of the National Tour started in September,” said Thatcher. “I joined the company in August 2018. I auditioned in May 2018. I had seen it on Broadway and thought it was absolutely hysterical.”

The Broadway production of “The Play That Goes Wrong” opened at the Lyceum Theatre on April 2, 2017 and by its closing on January 6, 2019 played 27 previews and 745 performances, making it the second longest running show in the history of the Lyceum Theatre. “The Play That Goes Wrong” received a Tony Award® for Best Set Design, Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Award for Best Play, and the Theater Fans Choice Award for Best Play.

“The Play That Goes Wrong” is produced on tour by Kevin McCollum, J.J. Abrams and Kenny Wax, Stage Presence Ltd., Catherine Schreiber, Ken Davenport, Double Gemini Productions / deRoy- Brunish, Damian Arnold / TC Beech, Greenleaf Productions / Bard-Roth, Martian Entertainment / Jack Lane / John Yonover, and Lucas McMahon.

It is a remarkable rags-to-riches story for a play which started its life at a London fringe venue with only four paying members of the public at the first performance, and has gone on to play to an audience of over two million people around the world.

“It started as a skit in a bar in England and it grew from there,” said Thatcher, a graduate of Manheim Township High School in Lancaster County. “J.J. Abrams saw it in London’s West End and brought it to Broadway. It’s still running on Broadway.

“It’s not stupid. It’s smartly done. For the actors in it, it’s not a comedy – it’s a tragedy. The play-within-a-play is a murder mystery. It’s set in the current time and the location is generic.”

Before the play starts the audience see the backstage staff doing last-minute adjustments to the set, including trying to mend a broken mantelpiece and find a dog that has run off.

The fictitious Cornley University has received a substantial bequest and is putting on a performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” — a 1920s murder mystery play, similar to “The Mousetrap,” which has the right number of parts for the members. The script was written by the fictitious Susie H.K. Brideswell.

During the performance, a play within a play, a plethora of disasters befall the cast, including doors sticking, props falling from the walls, and floors collapsing. Cast members are seen misplacing props, forgetting lines (in one scene, an actor repeats an earlier line of dialogue and causes the dialogue sequence triggered by that line to be repeated, ever more frenetically, several times), missing cues, breaking character, having to drink white spirit instead of whisky, mispronouncing words, stepping on fingers, being hidden in a grandfather clock, and being manhandled off stage, with one cast member being knocked unconscious and her replacement (and the group technician) refusing to yield when she returns. The climax is a tribute to a scene in Buster Keaton’s film “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (1928), when virtually the whole of the remaining set collapses.

“The cast is made up of 12 actors – eight on stage and four understudies with ensemble parts,” said Thatcher. “Anything that can go wrong does go wrong. Everybody’s goal is to just get to the end.

“Tell anyone that is going to the show to make sure they get there early because things start going wrong before the show even starts.”

Video link for “The Play That Goes Wrong” — https://youtu.be/5b-rxKlaz-4.

Performances at The Playhouse on Rodney Square are scheduled for March 12 at 7:30 p.m., March 13 and 14 at 2 and 8 p.m. and March 15 at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $40-$80.

Area music fans can enjoy a truly wild night on March 12 when World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com) hosts a concert by William Wild.

William Wild

William Wild is the moniker of Garrett Sale, a 28-year-old singer/songwriter from Knoxville, Tennessee. He is currently on tour in support of William Wild’s sophomore album “Push Ups” – the project’s major label debut which will be released on March 20 via Sony Music Masterworks.

Sale has lived in Knoxville a long time and has been making music a long time.

“I’ve been in Knoxville my whole life,” said Sale, during a phone interview last week from his home in Knoxville.

“My first memory of playing music was when I was in third grade. I came home and my dad had bought a guitar for me from an infomercial. 20 years later, I still have that guitar and use it with high-strung Nashville tuning.

“I began making music more seriously at the end of high school and into college. I started making my first record my junior year in college.”

Sale was a business management major at the University of Tennessee. He was telling the truth when he said that he’s been in Knoxville his whole life.

“I released my self-titled album in 2014,” said Sale. “I just started playing locally. I sold out a lot of shows at The Square Room in Knoxville. Then, I started to hit the Chapel Hill area and Nashville. In 2016, I released my ‘Steady Now’ EP.”

Sale then embarked on the making of “Push Ups.”

Drawing from a period of life marred by existential crisis and the sensationalized perception that often coincides with hallucinogenic exploration, “Push Ups” is a momentous step forward from the artist’s previous work.

Diverging from his previous work in an expansive way, the resulting full-length is both as intimate and personal for Sale as it is dynamic and progressive for his career as William Wild.

“I grew up religious in a culturally strong evangelical setting,” said Sale. “Coming to the end of the period, I experimented with LSD and then mushrooms. One LSD experience in 2017 was a high dive freak-out that shaped the coming year.

“The album is called ‘Push Ups’ because, at the end of the trip, I did push ups. The record is really formed by that experience.

“I was dealing with the demystification of my dream and the death of who I thought I was. It was different.

“Making the record, I had to force myself to finish it. I recorded it here in Knoxville. I have my own studio and a recording studio business on the side.”

Sale writes and records all of William Wild’s music. For live shows, he goes solo at times and other times performs with a band.

“The band line-up is pretty much a revolving door,” said Sale. “Recently, I’ve had the same group of guys for a year now. I’ve always yearned for a more permanent band.

“The show in Philadelphia will be a band show. The set list is almost exclusively ‘Push Ups’ songs except for one old song and one newer song that hasn’t been released yet.”

Video link for William Wild – https://youtu.be/JB0FnHhnrmA.

The show at World Café Live, which also features City of the Sun, will start at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming shows at World Café Live are Shing02 & The Chee-Hoos: A Tribute to Nujabes on March 12, An Evening with Trace Bundy on March 13, “Echoes, The American Pink Floyd” on March 14, Christine Havrilla & Gypsy Fuzz Birthday Show on March 14 and Barleyjuice on March 17.

“Wild” is also a description of fans’ behavior whenever the Beatles played a show – or even stood on their hotel room balcony.


Theater and music – and a sense of wildness past — come together when the music of the Beatles is celebrated in a stage show titled “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

Now through March 15, the Kimmel Center’s Broadway Philadelphia series is presenting “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles” at the Merriam Theater (250 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org).

RAIN’s current production is “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles — The Best of Abbey Road Performed Live.”

There is a glut of tribute bands on the entertainment scene offering their interpretations of music by bands from the past such as Pink Floyd or the Grateful Dead and, at times, even current acts such as Bruce Springsteen or U2.

Tribute bands and rock singer impersonators are omnipresent and come in all shapes and sizes. Their most favorite targets are Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Some are worth listening to. Some are pretty bogus. Some range from downright laughable to pitiful.

But there are a few that take their mission a lot more seriously than others — especially one particular Beatles tribute band.

On February 7, 1964, the Beatles stepped off a plane from England and put their feet on American soil for the first time. It was a truly historic moment in the history of rock music.

On February 7, 2004, exactly 40 years later to the minute, “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles” walked off the Concorde in Seattle to a group of over 7,000 screaming fans and performed live all of the songs the Beatles played on their three consecutive Ed Sullivan appearances in 1964.

Obviously, RAIN is the real deal.

The group’s award-winning live Beatles show “RAIN — A Tribute to the Beatles,” formerly known as “The Beatles Experience,” features performances by the look-a-like, sound-a-like band that has been paying homage to the Beatles for more than 40 years.

RAIN performs the full range of The Beatles’ discography live onstage, including the most complex and challenging songs that The Beatles themselves recorded in the studio but never performed for an audience.

Additionally, there are updated sets that include brand new LED, High-Definition screens and multimedia content, as well as new Beatles songs not previously performed by RAIN.

The group features Steve Landes (John Lennon), Paul Curatolo (Paul McCartney), Alastar McNeil (George Harrison), Aaron Chiazza (Ringo Starr), and Chris Smallwood (keyboards, percussion). Landes has been in the band since 1998 while the others joined in the last decade.

“This is my sixth tour with RAIN,” said McNeil, during a phone interview Monday from a tour stop in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Alastar was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and grew up surrounded by musicians who played ukulele and guitar. These instruments would play a pivotal role in his life as he became an ukulele luthier and eventually changed careers to fulfill the dream of being a full-time musician.

McNeil and his wife Miwa (herself a kiho’alu or Hawaiian slack key guitarist) have played with the iconic band Kupaina for years. McNeil also has earned a solid reputation for his instrumentation and adaptability playing with Honolulu bands doing everything from Irish to reggae, funk to classic rock and even a local Beatles tribute.

“I was in a Beatles tribute band 10 years ago in Hawaii called Day in the Life,” said McNeil. “Through co-incidence, I met some people from RAIN. I auditioned by video and then flew out to join the group. It took me at least one tour to get used to the weather.

“We tour about six months a year. We do three solid months in springtime. Last year, we also do a two-month summer tour. In my off months, I go back home and jump into local bands.”

On one of its recent tours, RAIN played the Beatles’ classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album in its entirety. On this tour, the band is doing the same with another Fab Four classic LP.

“We are paying tribute to ‘Abbey Road’ on this tour,” said McNeil. “And we’re still doing the best of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’

“We have more than 40 Beatles songs in our repertoire. We’re constantly reworking the show and moving stuff around.

“With a RAIN show, not only are you getting the music, you’re getting to see an incredible video show. It’s nostalgic – even for people who weren’t alive back then.”

Video link for “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles” — https://youtu.be/8ItDCk0YHXs.

Performances of “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles” are scheduled for March 13 at 7:30 p.m., March 14 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and March 15 at 1 and 6:30 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $39-$124.

Monika Herzig

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting Monika Herzig’s SHEroes on March 13, Beyond The Pale on March 14, and Open Mic with guest host Butch Zito on March 15.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Ernie Tokay on March 13, and Cliff Hillis & the Forward Thinkers on March 14.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com)

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host Mondo Cozmo on March 12, Eric Gales with special guest Danielle Nicole on March 13, KRS-One on March 14, Noah Reid with special guest Matthew Barber on March 15 and Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah on March 18.

Living Room at 35 East (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) will hosty Meghan Cary and Roger Street Friedman on March 13 and The Naked Sun on March 14.

118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) presents Galway Guild on March 12, Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise on March 13, Steal Your Peach on March 14, Under the Oak on March 15 and Mick’s Company on March 17.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Graham Nash on March 13.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will have The Mastersons with special guest Bonnie Whitmore on March 13, Don McCloskey with special guest Kate Yaeger on March 14 and Keith Harkin on March 15.

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