Romantic comedy at Arvel Graving Theater

Submitted Photo The Magic City Playmakers and Thespian Troupe 791 presents “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” tonight-Saturday, Feb. 18. Slapstick comedy paired with humorous romance will grace the stage of Arvel Graving Theater as the cast dedicates their performance to Alphonse Koenigsman.

Slapstick comedy paired with humorous romance will grace the stage of Arvel Graving Theater, tonight- Sunday, Feb. 19 during the production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” by the Magic City Playmakers and Thespian Troupe 791.

Set in a luxurious mansion, a family keeps the company of a famous radio personality who overstays his welcome by driving his hosts to the brink of madness.

Actor and senior performer David Pellenwessel echoed the rising anticipation for tonight’s performance.

“We have a very high energy cast,” Pellenwessel said. “Rehearsals are going really good and the energy on stage is exciting.”

Throughout the lighthearted production, director Kena Davidson, as well as cast members are dedicating their performance to former director Alphonse Koenigsman.

Prior to the production of “Shrek The Musical,” Koenigsman became ill last November.

Koenigsman’s passion and influence for theater remains a powerful source of inspiration for the entire cast.

“Alphonse is still in recovery and we’re trying our best to make him proud,” Davidson said. “We miss Alphonse and we miss his dog Chewbacca. We’re dedicating this play to Alphonse and we want to make him proud.”

Performing the part of Sheridan Whiteside is Demetrius Stavros.

Whiteside is a famous radio personality with exotic taste and an eccentric entourage.

Dashing in appearance and oozing with charm, Whiteside’s mischievous behavior reveals itself during his six-week stay with the Stanleys.

Throughout his performance, Stavros developed a liking for his extravagant character.

“I just put on my first fake beard, which is pretty awesome. I’m sure it’s going to hurt taking it off but it’s worth it,” Stavros said. “In some ways, Whiteside reminds me of myself except he’s a richer and higher class version.”

Applauded by Davis for his work ethic and powerful voice, Stavros is determined to make his acting debut a grand success.

“My goal was to capture an aristocratic accent,” Stavros said. “I’ve also worked on speaking much more loudly. I’ve never acted before and it’s important for the audience to clearly hear me. So, whenever I found myself alone, I spoke as loudly as I could.”

Opposite of Stavros is Savanah Buchweitz, who portrays Maggie Cutler, the elegant and straightforward secretary of Whiteside.

Possessing sophisticated style and intellect, Cutler harbors romantic affections for news reporter Bert Jefferson (Layne Rouse) but shenanigans from Whiteside, delays the inevitable romance between Cutler and Jefferson.

According to Buchweitz, her connection to Cutler was quite natural.

“Maggie is outspoken yet still respectful,” Buchweitz said. “I definitely feel a connection to Maggie because I too can be sassy at times. Sometimes, you have to learn to bite your tongue and Maggie learns that as well. I just really loved her character and I believe it fit me very well.”

While Buchweitz’s character practiced tact, Pellenwessel portrays Banjo, a whimsical fireball with a stormy personality and a comedic wit.

As a loyal acquaintance to Whiteside, Banjo’s intentions for the Stanleys, Cutler and entire cast are twisted and outrageous.

For Pellenwessel, playing the part of a sinister funny man was a hoot.

“My character is kind of crazy,” Pellenwessel said. “He’s mad and his mind goes so many places. It’s cool to play a character like this.”

Reflecting the buzz of cast members, Buchweitz expressed praise for Davidson’s direction.

“Kena has really stepped up and been quite a role model,” Buchweitz said. “I really love her and so does the entire cast.”

Tickets can be purchased at the door during performances or by visiting Artmain, located at 13 S. Main Street.