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Friday, March 23 News

Thirsty for fun? Try 'Don't Drink the Water' staged by Staples Players this weekend

The Staples Players will stage three performances of the Woody Allen farce "Don't Drink the Water" at the Toquet Hall Teen Center this weekend.

The high school troupe's Winter Stage production is both acted and directed by Staples High School students.

Set in the Cold War era, the plot involves the Hollanders, an American family vacationing in an unnamed Iron Curtain country. The family patriarch, Walter, unwittingly enters a restricted area and takes photos, prompting the communist police to believe Hollanders are spies.

With police in pursuit, the family finds refuge in the U.S. Embassy, which has a set of odd-ball characters. The ambassador's bumbling son has been left in charge and hijinx ensue.

The dialogue is loaded with Allen one-liners and physical comedy, but subplots of romance and family relations tether the comedy loosely to reality.

Some of the roles are double cast, and schedules of which actors will appear in which performances are online at www.staplesplayers.com.

More Information

Who: The Staples Players
What: "Don't Drink the Water"
Where: Toquet Hall Teen Center, 58 Post Road East
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $10 online at www.staplesplayers.com or at the door 20 minutes before curtain.
Info: www.staplesplayers.com or call 203-341-1310.

Allen's first professionally produced play, "Don't Drink the Water" opened on Broadway in 1966 and played for nearly 600 performances, although bouncing between three theaters.

In a 1969 film version, the communist country gets a name -- "Vulgaria" -- and Jackie Gleason plays Walter. In a 1994 remake for TV, Allen played Walter.

The Staples production is directed by senior Nathan Francis, whose cast and crew are working hard to make up for rehearsal time lost to snow cancellations, according to a news release.

Francis picked the play because it is "absolutely hilarious," he said.

Sophomore Nick Ribolla, who plays Walter, seconded that opinion.

"Even at the first read through we were bursting out into laughter," he said in the release.

Ribolla said the entire audience will get some of the jokes, but 1960s and '70s pop-culture references might be understood only by adults.

Staged at Toquet Hall instead of Staples High School, the show is what the troupe refers to as a "studio production" -- as opposed to a more formal "mainstage production" at Staples.

Senior Katelyn Farnen plays Sister Drobney, an insane nun who lives in the embassy. She took on the role for its perks as a studio production.

"Studios are a lot more intimate," she said in the release. "Between practicing at Toquet, long hours and the small casts, we all get to know each other really well. It's an awesome experience"

Senior Kelly Gore is the assistant director, junior Julia Greene is the producer and junior Nicole Waibel is the stage manager.

For more information, visit www.staplesplayers.com