Minnesota West theater drops “The Underpants” next weekend
WORTHINGTON — In the mood for a guaranteed belly laugh?
Then the Minnesota West Fine Arts Theater is the place for you next weekend, when the comedic farce “The Underpants” is performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s super funny — hysterical, really,” assured director Eric E. Parrish, music and theater instructor at MWCTC.
“There are a lot of opportunities for extreme characters in this one.”
Originally, the play was a 1910 production of German playwright Carl Sternheim titled “Die Hose.”
Comedian/actor Steve Martin — perhaps better known for his sidesplitting turns in movies such as “The Jerk,” “Three Amigos” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” than for his critically acclaimed writing — penned this English theatrical adaptation, which premiered off-Broadway in 2002 to excellent reviews.
“It’s been on my list to do for awhile — and this is the year,” said Parrish of the play that he says contains bawdy humor and “lots of innuendo.”
The plot follows the misadventures of Theobald Maske and his wife, whose unmentionables unfortunately fall to the ground in public. Add in possible renters and efforts to contain the drooping drawers to imagine the madcap scenarios that unfold in the course of the production.
“I’d say there’s some suggestive humor, so this is probably a PG-13 show,” advised Parrish.
With his cast of seven actors and an earlier fall production date than usual, Parrish initially aimed to polish their humorous chops in preparation for the humor to emerge.
“Comedy is the hardest thing to do because of timing — and staying in character is critical,” said Parrish.
“I had them practicing how to effectively tell jokes, including knock-knock jokes, and exploring the double meanings certain words may have. It was fun to see them examine and discover that.”
Parrish again stressed the importance of comic actors staying true to their characters.
“We’ve talked about that being the important piece, that you as a performer can’t think you’re funny because then it’s not funny,” he said.
Leads in the cast are Christopher Syphokham and Megan Wass, with supporting roles filled by Sammy Vallego, Than Than Kyaw, Rebecca Sjogren, Stefen Vanderziel and Nathaniel Owens.
“They’ve been really great about preparing well and memorizing their lines,” credited Parrish. “It’s been a nice cast to work with.”
Kyaw, a 2017 Worthington High School graduate who acted in several productions as a high schooler, returns the praise.
“I’m thrilled to work with Mr. Parrish again because he is a fantastic director,” said Kyaw.
“This year I am playing a very interesting character, and I’ve learned a lot from our rehearsals.
“I’m really excited for everyone to see the finished show.”
Theatergoers interested in making a night of it are invited to participate in a pre-show dinner, which will be served in the Minnesota West Commons on Saturday evening.
“The play is set in Germany, so the meal also has a German theme,” mentioned Parrish enticingly.
Mostly, Parrish hopes people will turn out to support the show and engage in a good measure of comic relief.
“With things so serious everywhere lately, it’s time to laugh,” said Parrish.
“And ’The Underpants’ is just pure fun; it’s a brilliant, hilarious, bawdy, over-the-top farce.”
“The Underpants” by Steve Martin will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on both Friday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 28, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Minnesota West Fine Arts Theater, 1450 Collegeway, Worthington. Tickets are available at the door beginning one hour before each show time. A German-themed dinner (rouladen or chicken breast with mushroom sauce, apple strudel, etc.) will be served at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, in the Minnesota West Commons. Call Sharon Balster at 372-3473 for dinner reservations by 4:30 p.m. next Wednesday.