UA actors pull out all the stops in “Flea”

UA actors pull out all the stops in “Flea”

Heather Beyer

The University of Akron Theatre Program pulls all the stops with the French farce “A Flea in Her Ear” and provides theatergoers with an evening full of fun, excitement and laughter.

The necessary ingredients to pull off a farce are simple: multiple exits, followed by multiple entrances, confusion, a pinch of comedic timing, mistaken identity, misunderstandings and just a dash of clever innuendo.

This is a show not to be missed.

The production, directed by UA Adjunct Professor and Equity actress Aubrey Caldwell, will end its run this weekend.

Performances will be tonight through March 9 at 8 p.m. at Sandefur Theatre in Guzzetta Hall.

Written by Georges Feydeau in 1907, “A Flea in Her Ear” is set in Paris at the start of the 20th century.

“A Flea in Her Ear” tells the story of Yvonne Chandel as she tries to expose her husband’s alleged infidelity. She enlists her best friend to help her try and trap him. The situation spirals out of control when a case of mistaken identity and a crazy Spaniard are thrown in the mix.

The following University of Akron students and area actors will be featured in the performance: Alex Funk, Anthony Crislip, Charlie Leopold, Chris Bizub, Chris Simmons, Dave Cranston, Dean Coutris, Jeremy Winter, Katie O’Connor, Lauren Fowkes, Nici Romo, Samantha Ost, Silina Rivera and Travis Williams.

UA actor Jeremy Winter said the audience can expect a lot of humor and fast-paced scenes.

“It’s three acts but the energy is really high and it flies by. It’s funny and crazy,” Winter said.

Winter plays a convincing Baptistin, an “old drunk” uncle, who resides at a less-than-reputable inn, formally known as the Pretty Pussy Inn.

Production stage manager Amanda Miller said she didn’t think any of the actors were type-cast in the show.

“As far as type-casting goes, I don’t think any of our actors’ personalities fit their character perfectly. But they have all put so much work into the person they are portraying, it seems like a second version of themselves,” Miller said.

Miller said that stage managing “A Flea in Her Ear” has been a challenging and hilarious experience.

“The material was so wonderful that it was impossible for the rehearsal process to be anything but fun. The cast just made everything even better, they were always on top of things and positive to be around,” Miller said.

Miller said some of the challenges that she and the production crew encountered was not getting their complete set until the beginning of tech week (the week the show opened), which gave the stage crew less time to learn the scene changes.

The challenges were welcomed by Miller and her crew.

“They were also a favorite part of this process. The more I threw at them, the more positive and excited they were,” Miller said.

Miller said she has grown a lot as a stage manager as far as how she works with her cast, and in her own personal work.

“This was also the first show I’ve done with a huge set change like this, and that has been a huge eye-opener.”

Along with an elaborate set were stunning costumes.

According to UA costume designer Mark Snyder, the initial designs took about two weeks’ worth of research and meetings with Caldwell to get her vision. It is part of the costume designer’s job to bring to life the visual picture of the director.

“The design continues through opening night. The creation of the costumes took approximately six weeks. We have a wonderfully talented staff in the costume shop, without which the costumes would not have happened,” Snyder said.

Snyder said that Caldwell wanted the costumes to be fun and he developed that idea by taking the period and character look to the fullest for each character.

Snyder’s first response to seeing his designs for the first time at dress rehearsal was, “Thank God no one
is naked!”

“It is always a fear that you have left out someone or some detail was missed. Then you look for details and anything that seems out of place. It was thrilling to see the characters come to life and that each of their costumes reflected who they were,” Snyder said.

Snyder thinks the show is fantastic.

“Aubrey has picked the perfect actors/actresses for each of the characters. Each of them brings their own personalities to the characters. This French farce is well directed, acted, and I feel the audience is in for a real treat,” he said.

UA actors Chris Bizub, Alex Funk and Travis Williams represent only a small fraction of the cast’s talent.

Bizub plays two roles: Victor Emanuelle, an uptight businessman, and Poche, a sloppy, stupid, drunkard type.

Bizub described his journey of playing the two characters as challenging, but a lot of fun.

“It’s great fun for the audience to watch an actor run off stage as one character and mere moments later to watch the same actor stroll back on to the stage transformed into a completely different character,” he said.

Bizub’s energy and passion for his craft is something to be acknowledged and admired. He has played many leading roles for the theatre department, and every time he gives a performance that audiences will never forget.

Funk is also no stranger to the UA stage. As Don Carlos Homenides De Histangua, Funk plays the role of an extremely jealous husband who carries guns regularly and is not afraid to use them.

Funk gives a hysterical performance that is full of energy and is one not to be missed!

Another memorable character was Dr. Finache, played by Williams. The doctor is a personal friend of Victor Emmanuel and his nephew and helps them with their issues. He is a frequent patron of the Pretty Pussy Inn.

“My favorite part of the show has to be Dr. Finache. Travis Williams has managed to make the character smart, likeable, and yet just a tiny bit sleazy. I can’t help but laugh every time he has a scene,” UA actress Samantha Ost said.

Ost plays Antoinette, Chandels’ parlor maid, in the show. According to Ost, Antoinette likes to have a “good time.” She is married to the Chandels’ butler, Ettienne, but is currently having an affair with Camille, Chandel’s cousin.

“Fortunately for her, she proves to be extremely sneaky, continually getting nearly caught and somehow always talking her way out of it,” Ost said.

Ost said audiences will get a kick out of the extraordinary circumstances that occur throughout this show.

“So much might be saved if the characters just took five minutes to talk through things. But instead, the misunderstandings just continue to build and build, until things become both ridiculous and hilarious,” Ost said.

There is something for everyone in “A Flea in Her Ear.” Join the cast and crew on their hilarious journey of the consequences of adultery.

Tickets for “A Flea in Her Ear” are $12 for general admission; $10 for seniors and UA faculty, staff and alumni; and $6 for students. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, call
(330) 972-7895.