Manhattan College Players Present “Present Laughter”

by LAUREN SCHUSTER, Asst. Features Editor

Lost keys, British accents and secret love affairs filled the Black Box Theater this weekend as the Manhattan College Players put on their fall main stage production “Present Laughter,” written by Noel Coward.

The show centers around the character Garry Essendine, a famous British actor who has just turned 40. As Essendine reluctantly approaches middle age, everyone around him seems to be eager to share their opinions about his lifestyle, all before he leaves for a trip to Africa with his acting troupe.

While he is no stranger to the stage, senior Matthew Peters, who plays Essendine, found this role to be particularly fun to play.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 2.27.31 PM
xMatt Peters plays Garry Essendine, a famous British actor who has just turned 40. The play was performed in the Black Box Theater in Thomas Hall over the past weekend. Three out of 5 performances were sold out. GABRIELLA DEPINHO / THE QUADRANGLE

“I think it’s just really fun getting into the character and being really extra,” Peters said. “Before the show, I start walking around as my character and everybody gets really annoyed, but I think just the most fun thing about it for me in this show is really … getting into that character and just being this very outgoing, flamboyant type of person.”

For Peters, a great deal of preparation for the show involved getting to know his character better.

“There’s layers,” Peters said. “Whenever I get a character I always try to find this one vulnerable part about them and with him, he comes across as this arrogant, egotistical actor, and he is, but then it’s also because he just wants an intimate relationship and that’s what his goal is.”

Freshman Amanda Vetrano made her Players mainstage debut as young debutante Daphne Stillington, the first of Essendine’s many lovers to be introduced in the show.

“[My favorite part] about this show in particular is probably the cast,” Vetrano said. “I really loved getting to know everyone, and it was my first mainstage show at a college and it was really overwhelming, but everyone was just so kind and welcoming. And it’s just such a good show, it’s so funny and everyone is so talented.”

The show’s director, Martin Marchitto, agreed that the cast is a large part of what makes this show what it is.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 2.27.20 PM
Junior Megan Lawlor plays Joanna Lyppiatt, the wife of one of Mr. Essendine’s closest friends, who also seduces Mr. Essendine. Paul Fucao / THE QUADRANGLE

“My favorite part about the show is that I think that it is perfectly cast,” Marchitto said. “I think every role is absolutely perfectly cast, and I really like the chemistry that the cast members have with each other.”

For Marchitto, this show was also bittersweet, as it was the tenth and final production he would direct for the MC Players before starting his new job as artistic director of a non-profit theatre and education center in Connecticut.

“I love creating good theater with people who are committed to creating good theater and so it has just been a joy, and I’m sad that this is my last production, but I’m certainly going to miss them all,” Marchitto said.

Junior Gabby Kasper, the show’s assistant director, found that this show in particular gave Players the chance to explore some rarely touched upon themes.

“I think this show is different than other shows we’ve done in the past, just because it’s so motivated by sex, but in a very subtle way.” Kasper said. “So it’s a really fun show to do just because you get to talk around all these subjects and you’re alluding to things, and it is a really sexual show, everything is motivated by sex, that’s the whole point. But it’s also fun because it’s really meta, because it’s about an actor, so it’s about the theater in general … and how ridiculous it can be sometimes.”

The show was Martin Marchitto’s tenth and final production as MC Players. He is starting a new job at a non-profit theatre and education center in Connecticut next semester. GABRIELLA DEPINHO / The Quadrangle

While the show requires a great deal of dedication in the form of months of rehearsals and preparation, for Kasper, it’s all worth it.

“What I really like about [doing a mainstage production] is how it consumes you,” Kasper said. “It takes so much of your energy and it takes so much of your time and it’s exhausting, but it’s so rewarding in the end.”