The Union Recorder

May 27, 2014

CURTAIN CALL: 'Hay Fever' cast brings laughter with talent, practice

Tom Toney
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — “My baby’s gentle, and she’s wild. She wears a button on her shoulder, saying I’m a flower child...”

Now what could those lyrics have to do with the main theme of this week’s column? Read on MacBliss.

The Milledgeville Players production of Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” is just around the corner (when you’re just around the bend). In fact, opening night is this Thursday, May 29 starting at 8:00 PM in romantic Russell Auditorium on the Georgia College campus.

The play continues its comedic run on Friday and Saturday nights, May 30 and 31, also at that same time reference as a certain brand of coffee. On Sunday, the performance starts at 2:00 PM, the middle time of the old Dr. Pepper slogan of “drink a bite to eat at 10, 2 and 4".

Maybe there IS too much product placement in media these days.

If you’ve been keeping track of information over the past few weeks, you probably know the basics, but allow me to refresh your memory. It’s always nice to have a sparkling refreshed memory!

“Hay Fever” is a comic play written by Noel Coward in 1924 and first produced in 1925. The play has been described as a cross between high farce and a comedy of manners.

Set in an English country house, the play centers around the four members of the Bliss family and their outrageous behavior. Each of the family members has invited a guest for the weekend without consulting the others.

Judith Bliss, the matriarch of the family, announces early in the play, before the arrival of the guests, that she has decided to return to the stage in one of her previous hits. She and the two grown children, Simon and Sorel, start acting out a passage from the play, “Is this a game?” The answer is yes and it is a game that must be played to the finish.

At this point, the guests begin to arrive.

The guests find themselves at the mercy of their eccentric hosts and, though at times they find the Bliss family antics amusing, more often they find them ranging from odd to downright terrifying.

Iconic Iona Holder is the director of this comic masterpiece and has been putting the cast through their paces. She has really been emphasizing the importance of every word that Coward wrote and that the play needs to be performed as he meant it to be.

In other words, learn your lines and don’t rely on ad-libbing!

But she has a great group to work with. I’ve mentioned some of the cast members in previous columns but let’s summarize again.

The Bliss family is played by Tina Pittman, Steve Elliott-Gower, Maria Barber and Clay Garland.

Sasha Schafler, Scott Dillard, Robbie Lewis and Alexa Williams play the frazzled guests while Jamie Walsh Ferreira comes in as the house keeper (who used to be Judith’s former dresser).

Tickets are $10 for general admission (or whatever rank you hold including civilian) and are available now. Just head to to purchase tickets in advance.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s fun! Each ticket is good for one performance on any of the four show dates. In other words, you don’t have to predict which showing you’ll attend. Tickets are good for any of the Thursday through Sunday performances.

And if you purchase your tickets in advance, it will save you time at the box office when you arrive.

Of course, tickets will also be available at the box office each night. In fact, if you are a student with a valid ID, you will be allowed to enter the Bliss family country home for only $8. That special deal is ONLY available at the box office the night of each performance.

So make plans for coming out to see “Hay Fever” and enjoy an evening (or in the case of Sunday, an afternoon) of great classic comedy. That’s this Thursday through Sunday in Russell Auditorium.

Hey, I just remembered that Russell was built in 1928 so it’s pretty much historically ready for a play from this era.

OK, before signing off, I want to give a heads up regarding next week’s column. In it, I hope to announce the musical that will be presented by the Milledgeville Players in mid - August and audition dates which will be coming up shortly in June.

That column should appear in next week’s Union-Recorder. So if you have been thinking about a summer musical and possibly taking part, stay tuned!

Our opening lyrics are from a group called the Jefferson Handkerchief. Yes, you read that right. There is almost nothing known about this band - it only had one single on the Challenge record label.

In all likelihood, it was a studio creation. The one single, released in 1967, featured guitar work reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane and vocal harmonies that sort of copied the Mamas and Papas.

I became aware of this song in 1979 on the third volume of the Pebbles record series, a series of compilation LPs released from Australia that celebrated some of the most obscure punk-rock songs recorded in the 1960’s.

And yes, there is a connection between this song and the upcoming play “Hay Fever”. Just think about what “hay fever” makes many people do. You’ll pick it up in the song title revealed in this parting lyric.

“...That’s a groovy thing to be, if she wasn’t loving me. ‘Cause I start sneezing for hours...Ah..ah..Chooo! I’m allergic to flowers!”

Catch you on the flip side.


Tom Toney can be reached at