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Draper Journal

New faces take the spotlight in ‘Charley’s Aunt’ at Draper Historic Theatre

Feb 26, 2019 12:18PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Charley (Jeremy Sidwell) jokes around with his crush, Amy (Stacy Wilk), in the Lamplight Theatre Company production of “Charley’s Aunt.” (Photo courtesy Bailey Loveless/Draper Historic Theatre)

By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]

“Everyone’s done something a little crazy for someone they love. People can relate to this show,” said actor Jake Wilkins, explaining why the Victorian farce, “Charley’s Aunt,” is still relevant — and funny — to audiences today. Wilkins plays the role of Jack in the new Lamplight Theatre Company’s production of the classic British comedy at Draper Historic Theatre. 

Adapted into a movie several times as well as a Broadway musical, “Charley’s Aunt” has been an audience favorite since it took the theater world by storm in 1892. Lamplight Theatre Company will present its own version of the play March 8–25 at Draper Historic Theatre.  

Lamplight Theatre Company is a new sister theatrical production company under the umbrella of Draper Historic Theatre. It was created as a means to offer a wider variety of shows and draw a somewhat different audience to the venue. Whereas Draper Historic Theatre usually presents family-friendly musicals suitable for all ages, Lamplight Theatre Company productions will be geared more toward teens and adults and will present plays as well as musicals.  

Upcoming productions include the Short Attention Span Film Festival in May, which will honor the theater’s history as a movie house. Lamplight Theatre Company will present Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” next fall. Executive Marketing Director Bailey Loveless explained, “Classic shows are going to have their own unique spin” in Lamplight Theatre Company productions. “Charley’s Aunt” is no exception.

In the original script of “Charley’s Aunt,” Oxford University students Charley and Jack are planning a double date with Kitty and Amy but need a chaperone. Enter their wealthy friend, Lord Fancourt Babberly — aka “Babbs” — who happens to be playing a female role in a campus play. The young men concoct a plan in which Babbs will impersonate Charley’s Brazilian aunt, Donna Lucia, to be their chaperone. They don’t realize Jack’s father has his eye on Donna Lucia’s fortune, and that the real Donna Lucia has come to town in disguise to check up on her nephew.  

When director Kylee Larsen first read the play, she was reminded of fraternity “bros” and pampered heiresses, such as Paris Hilton, of the early 2000s and has changed the setting of the play to that era. “Much of the content relates to now,” she said. In one scene, for example, Jack struggles to write a letter to the girl he loves. In this production he is composing a text. “We’ve modernized it just enough,” said Larsen. “In this show there are two love stories, a love triangle, identity theft — and lots of running around!” 

The play is still set in Britain, however, and the young cast has embraced the challenge of doing British accents, everything from an upper crust English manner of speaking to Cockney and Scottish accents.  

The cast is clearly having fun with the fast-paced comedy. Jeremy Sidwell, who plays Charley, said of his character, “He’s so much fun to play because he’s such a good guy who gets into crazy situations and is undone by his anxiety. He loves Amy but doesn’t know how to tell her.”

Alex Richey spends much of the play in drag playing Lord Babberly as Donna Lucia, a characterization much more akin to Mrs. Doubtfire than RuPaul. “It’s a fun role to play because he’s still pretty manly,” said Richey. “He enjoys stealing the girls away from his friends.” 

“Because this is our flagship show, we want to make an impression on the community,” Richey added. 

“It’s hilarious!” said Sidwell. “If you like farce, like ‘Noises Off,’ you’ll love this show.”

Lamplight Theatre Company will present “Charley’s Aunt” March 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 18, 22, 23 and 25 at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit the Draper Historic Theatre website, or call 801-572-4144 during the run. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper.