Comedies comes in many packages, from Shakespeare to Woody Allen, and usually three things make them successful; the words, the cast and the presentation. By those criteria, Westfield High School’s fall play is a hit.
A Little Hotel On The Side is for anyone seeking entertainment full of laughs and as professionally presented as possible. The production is both clever and the epitome of an entertaining farce.
Over 30 WHS students combined to their talents to take the audience back to 19th century Paris to present the story of two couples who are browbeating each other and just plain dysfunctional. The couples unknowingly decide to head for secret trysts with the other’s spouse at the same rundown, obscure, tourist hotel known for “getaways.”
There, they not only encounter each other but, unexpectedly, their best friends as well as their maid, who is pursuing the very prudish and very up-tight son of one of the couple's. The mix is a classic story presented with sly winks, lots of double entendre and wonderfully executed slapstick, played to develop both the characters and action. How they avoid each other launches the fun.
This is not an easy show to present, as comedy is often harder to pull off than drama, let alone comedic moves like an entire row of people falling precisely like dominoes. Scenes in which the actors go back and forth between hotel rooms as each just misses the other are all timed perfectly and show the efforts of the cast to make it work.
Pulling off the lines, learning the French accent and keeping the show moving are a credit to WHS students as well as the show's director Daniel Devlin, who has led the school to multiple drama awards. An actor himself, Devlin works in his class with many of his students who are aiming at spots in the top drama schools across the country after graduating from WHS.
One of the most striking aspects of the show is a spectacular set, built entirely by the students, and exceptional sound delivered through wireless microphones. The ability to do this is not simply talent but only the kind of enthusiasm that is reflected in many artistic programs at WHS.
For the seniors, this is a grand, successful moment for a final play, creating much anticipation for the spring musical. The seniors who had many of the lead roles include: Matthew Lynn, Micheala Tropeano, Nichole Zimmerman, Geoffrey Ko, Taylor Jackson, Jack Mustard, Allie Hecht, Kate Capodanno, Veronica Murphy, Maggie Tanji, Megan Mulrooney, Will Cary, Isabel Smelkinson, Liz Greismer, Robert Romano.
A Little Hotel On The Side is being presented at WHS, at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, and at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1. General seating tickets are $10 at the door.