Charley’s Aunt

Apparently 2018 was the year I did shows that no one else ever does. Charley’s Aunt was written in the 1890s and was incredibly popular then; it even got turned into a musical later on. But…no one ever does it.

It’s super cute though. It’s a fun British farce about a couple of college boys who want to invite their girlfriends over so they can propose, but of course in this era they need a proper chaperone. Originally Charley’s aunt (wow, the name of the show!) was going to chaperone, but she doesn’t show up, so naturally the boys dress up their classmate as the aforementioned aunt. Comedy ensues.

I played Kitty, one of the pretty girls hoping to get engaged. I really liked this show because I got to play a cute ingenue, which I never get cast as, plus I got to use a British accent. However…the show is long. So long. Tremendously long. I think that might be the main factor why it’s rarely produced. The bulk of my scenes were in acts one and two; I spent most of act three in a ballgown sipping brandy and saying “isn’t that lovely!”

Speaking of costumes…guess who made her own costumes again?

This show is set in the 1890s, so I needed a full set of underwear. I made myself a chemise and bloomers, and wore a corset from the costume shop. Unfortunately, because I’m short, the corset was far too long for my torso, but with some creative lacing we made it work.

I wore an afternoon dress for most of the show. White muslin was very popular for wealthy women, but I lined mine in pink for a little extra something, and to make it a little less stark onstage. I used McCall’s 7071 and followed it pretty closely on the bodice, but I used the skirt pattern from Simplicity 2207 for a more simple shape. I didn’t wear extra petticoats or a bustle, but I gathered the dress a little bit more in the back to make it a little more full.

My act three dinner dress was a dream. I bit the bullet and ordered the Phantom of the Opera film pattern from eBay- long discontinued, but absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth it. It made a beautiful off the shoulder neckline. I made it as one piece instead of two, however, and cut the waist straight across instead of into a point. I also added the sleeves from Simplicity 1873. I used a pink polyester from Joann’s Casa Collection and lined it with a cream colored cotton bedsheet from Walmart.

The bustle was sewn the way it the pattern calls for, but I bustled it higher to make sure I didn’t get stepped on (spoiler alert: I still got stepped on. Frequently. The perils of being five foot nothing in a floor length ballgown.)

My favorite part was that my mom came all the way from Nashville to see me! She came to Edwin Drood in the fall, too- but she saw me in the same costumes, because I ended wearing all my Charley’s Aunt pieces for Drood. It worked out!

I’m really glad I ended up doing this show. It went over really well and I had a lot of fun with the other actors- four of us from Wedding Singer went straight from Wedding Singer to Charley’s Aunt, and that made it a really great experience to be with friends. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to do this show again, but if you get the chance at least to see it, go see it!

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

No one ever does Edwin Drood. No one. So this was amazing, because not only was this theater finally doing Drood, but the director was super passionate about it, which made it even better.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on Charles Dickens’ last novel, so it truly is a mystery- he died before he completed the book and left no outline or notes, so no one truly knows who he planned to reveal as the murderer. So the musical opens as an immersive play-within-a-play, with all the actors running around the “Music Hall Royale” in preparation for their first production of Drood. The actors are introduced as their various characters, and the musical continues with plenty of winking and nodding and fourth wall breaking. And then, of course, we reach the point in Act 2 when Charles Dickens died and the whole show comes to a screeching halt. The entire fourth wall is gone, and the audience votes on their choice of detective, murderer, and a pair of lovers. The whole second act and finale of the show changes based on who the audience selects- so everyone has to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow the changes, not to mention the crazy amount of audience interaction.

I was cast as Florence, the “head chorine” of the Music Hall Royale. The director gave us a really challenging audition that involved a difficult cold read and improvisation, all with a British accent, and he told me he was really impressed with my audition and gave me a lot of material to do with the show. We started the show at house open with all of us interacting and improvising with the audience, and he had me as the first one to come out. He also put together a little bit together for me and the Music Hall stage manager to do for the intermission; the theater does a 50-50 style raffle so I got to be the one to draw the number and give the money to the winner.

And within the show I had lots to do to do. I was constantly dancing and running back and forth, and this was a very vocally challenging show too. There’s bits of strong character vocals, and also some very pure legit stuff. I got to sing part of the Moonfall Quartet, which is absolutely gorgeous but really difficult!


And I even sang a G5 at the end of “British Subject,” the only soprano who sang that note.

And did I mention I did it all in a corset? We even rehearsed in corsets. Luckily, I did Charley’s Aunt just a month or two before the rehearsal process started for Drood, so I was used to it, but high kicking in an aisle is quite another situation!

I even got to wear my Charley’s Aunt costume again! I had my beautiful pink ballgown again, and I made a little bustle skirt to wear over my white muslin afternoon dress. I’m glad those pieces got some more wear.

All in all, Drood is an absolutely amazing show and I really recommend auditioning for it or going to see it if the (rare) chance arrives. It’s a great stretch of skills for an actor and a really enjoyable and interactive experience for an audience member!