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What: “Hotel Paradiso”
Who: El Dorado High School Drama Department
Where: Black Box Theater, 561 Canal St. in Placerville
When: Nov. 14, 15 and 16 and Nov. 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $12 for adults and $10 for students
Information: Studio81.org or The Bookery, Main Street in Placerville
A married man and a married woman — not married to one another, mind you — converge on the Hotel Paradiso intent on a daring dalliance. Trouble is, the couple doesn’t know her husband is called to the hotel to check out weird noises ostensibly coming from the plumbing.
Or the noises could be ghosts.
That tantalizing recipe for disaster unfolds amid reckless hilarity as El Dorado High School presents “Hotel Paradiso,” a play running Nov. 14, 15 and 16 and Nov. 21, 22 and 23 in the school’s Black Box Theater, 561 Canal St. in Placerville.
A production of Studio 81, the drama department at EDHS, “Hotel Paradiso” is directed by Paul Tomei, who has taught drama at the school for 15 years.
Tomei has chosen to set the play, which traditionally takes place in Paris, in 1910 London, with the talented cast using British dialect and accents in portraying their characters.
Fast and funny
“‘Hotel Paradiso’ is a farce, a fast-paced tragedy that is turned upside-down to make it funny,” Tomei, 44, explained. “The audience will laugh at the characters, who take themselves seriously, but evoke humor in their follies.”
The play, written in 1894 by French playwrights Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desavallieres, is in three acts, with mayhem and mishap leading up to its revealing finale.
All works out in the end, but it’s hard to believe as the play unfolds with shenanigans and fun that will have the audience reaching for tissues as tears of laughter punctuate the farcical drama.
“I love this play because I love laughing,” said a cheery-faced “policeman,” 15-year-old Genna Duke, whose decidedly feminine face couldn’t be entirely masked by the bushy mustache she wears for her part. “My character is kind of a big bear of a man, kind of stupid but he means well,” said the sophomore, who has been involved in drama classes since coming to EDHS.
Genna recently helped behind the scenes with the school’s production of “Cats” and she said working with Tomei has been fulfilling for the young thespian.
“Mr. Tomei is awesome, cool enough that the kids like him but strict enough to get things done,” she said, scurrying off to take her spot on stage during a recent rehearsal.
Playing one of the lead roles in “Hotel Paradiso” is Hannah Van Vleet, a 17-year-old senior who looked cool and collected in her period burgundy-hued traveling dress. Hannah portrays Marcelle Cot, the wife who runs off with Mr. Boniface.
“I like playing this part because of the contrasts involved,” said Hannah. “Marcelle feels the need to be a good wife but she also feels the need to be rebellious.
“The whole situation ends up just hilarious.”
Hannah’s lovely dress joins dozens of other outstanding costumes, including that of a saucy French maid, all the result of efforts by parent Cynthia Morrison, 40, who has helped out with the wardrobe for several of EDHS’s theater productions.
Morrison’s daughter, Natalee Eggen, plays the part of the French maid employed by the Bonifaces, who seduces nephew Max, played by Adam Ainsworth.
As Natalee, 17, has gone through all four years of high school participating in drama, her mom has been in the wings, helping with wardrobe and providing other support for her daughter.
“This is an amazing human being,” said Director Tomei of Morrison.
“I do it for my daughter,” said Morrison simply, who added that providing costumes for “Hotel Paradiso” has been relatively easy as she was able to rent most of the outfits, then work on providing needed accessories.
Easy or not, the costumes are fabulous, with pin-striped suits in muted shades along with bright reds, blacks and whites on the guys, while the young ladies’ ensembles are equally eye-catching.
“When we did ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Cats,’ that was a different story,” said Morrison, who added that costumes for those two plays each took about four months to assemble.
“That was a lot of work,” said the dedicated mom, who works a night shift at Red Hawk Casino. “I do it (volunteering to do wardrobe) because she wants to be in acting and I want her to succeed.
“I’d like to see her pursue this and I’d also like her to study marine biology,” said Morrison, watching as her daughter, looking composed and confident, flirted onstage with a nervously smiling Max.
“Quiet on the set!” prompted Tomei, after telling one of the police officers he (or she, hard to tell) could worry about trimming that mustache later. “Don’t look at the camera, and … good!” he said as still photos were taken for publicity.
“Good” is an understatement, if the great time the students appeared to enjoy as they ran through a few lines is any indication.
“If you are looking to escape the real world for a while and laugh out loud, then you should come to see ‘Hotel Paradiso,'” said Tomei, turning to give a pep talk to the numerous cast members.
The lineup includes: Boniface (Tyler Land), Angelique (Colleen Crooks), Marcelle (Hannah Van Vleet), Cot (Raymond Thompson), Max (Adam Ainsworth), Victoire (Natalee Eggen), Martin (Caleb Morris), 1st Porter (Aleksander Jonsson), 2nd Porter (Garhett Aadnesen), 3rd Porter (Kristen Fieri), 4th Porter (Alexandria Linville), Violette (Alexa Flickinger-Renzi), Marguerite (Olivia Flickinger-Renzi), Paquerette (Taylor Carlisle), Pervenche (Camille Woicekowski), Anniello (Justin Clare), George (Gwen Lacher), Lady (Kellie Floyd), Duke (Hunter Schwenk), Tabu (Evan Lucero), Police Inspector (Thoren Jorgensen), and Police (Giavana Duke, Sami Jumper and Genna Duke).
Tickets for “Hotel Paradiso” are $12 for adults, $10 for students and may be purchased online at Studio81.org or at The Bookery on Main Street in Placerville. They also may be purchased at the door. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. each night.