If you ask cast members of Roseburg High School’s final play of the year to describe their production, you get words like awkward, quirky and wacky. According to theater teacher Christina Moroney, that’s exactly what they were going for in “Check Please.”
“My kids really wanted to do more theater, but something light and fun and easy following Wizard of Oz, which was fun but a ton of work,” Moroney said. “This has been a really good option for them. Not overly stressful, but a fun way to wrap up the year.
This 30 minute production was recently modified by the playwright for an online setting. It follows Guy (Anthony Gordon) and Girl (Ylektra Rodriguez) as they go on a variety of virtual blind dates with some awkward, quirky and wacky individuals. Both Gordon and Rodriguez said they related to their characters, which gave them the opportunity to focus on parts of their acting they hadn’t worked on before.
“With ‘Check Please,’ I have been able to take a lighter approach to a comedic role compared to past shows,” Gordon said. “I play Guy, the male lead. I relate to him a lot, because a lot of his reactions are often just like how my reactions would be in a similar circumstance. I like to laugh a lot, so one of the hardest parts of the show was not laughing when these characters do something funny of weird.”
Rodriguez said she is used to playing the comedic role, but playing Girl allowed her to “experiment with another side of comedy in this show.”
“Check Please has been a delightful addition to my theatre experience by being a good show to practice my non-verbal reactions and a good place to work with friends,” Rodriguez said. “I play the Girl in the play who is the main girl that is just trying to find a good guy to spend her time with. It was pretty easy for me to get into her mindset since she is supposed to be the character that the audience can relate to.”
Fellow actress Gabriela Carrillo found one of her characters a little harder to connect with. Carrillo said she put a lot of research into the character Ruth, who is a politician.
“Ruth is trying to get this person she’s going on a ‘date’ with to vote for her ... she doesn’t realize she’s on a date,” Carrillo said. “I am nothing like that, I don’t even watch politics, I had to do so so much research for this but after many political movies and articles I think I finally got this political vibe down.”
After three virtual shows, most of the cast is rather experienced acting via Zoom, but each expressed a dislike for how disconnected they felt from their fellow actors. Though not all involved take classes with Moroney, she said every student that has participated in a production this year has learned more about film studies than what might usually be taught in a regular year.
“We’ve really gotten to focus on film acting skills, which we have never focused on before because we have never had a reason to need them before. But it is a really valuable thing to learn,” Moroney said. “Being able to focus on these practical skills that we wouldn’t normally get to, I think has been really positive for them.”
Rodriguez took this as an opportunity to expand her acting repertoire by focusing on skills she hadn’t worked on much in previous plays. One such skill is looking at the camera rather than the computer screen.
“This is a new challenge that has come up with Zoom, since in order to make it seem like I am looking at the other actor I have to look at the actual camera instead of the screen. Since this means I can’t see their face when we’re acting, I have to kind of guess what would be the appropriate face to respond with,” she said.
Check Please will be available on demand from 7 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Sunday at rhsdrama.anywhereseat.com/channel.php. Recognizing that these are still hard times, Moroney has opted to use a name your price option for tickets. She asks the public to pay whatever they are comfortable with paying. Monies will go back into the theatre program, but she doesn’t want finances to keep anyone from seeing the show.
At 8 p.m. Friday, members of the cast will host a Q&A at youtu.be/EUsWq0Wt8uQ. Individuals with a Youtube account will be able to ask questions during video. Those unable to attend will still be able access the video after the live portion has ended.
“It’s a little bit of screwball comedy, where you’ve got someone playing the straight character who is reacting — or not reacting — to these other, weird characters. It’s a little bit of off the wall comedy,” Moroney said. “I think anybody that has tried to go on dates and had them be awkward will relate to this show. That’s the whole thing, these characters are looking for love and anyone that has dated people before has been in that situation. It’s the journey to find love, but focusing on how weird first dates can be.”