Written by Bailey Ridenour // Photo by Madison Meyer
The Searcy Summer Dinner Theatre (SSDT) performance of “The Play That Goes Wrong” garnered four awards in December after being nominated for seven awards this past November by BroadwayWorld.
Senior Asher Patten won Best Performer in a Play, assistant costumer Katy White won Best Costume Design for Play or Musical, assistant technical director Seth Fish won Best Scenic Design of Play or Musical and theatre department chair Steven Frye won Best Director of a Play.
While the comedy had aspects that audience members enjoyed, the fun and flashy costumes were a staple of the show. During the summertime, White doesn’t work alone, but she had two student assistants that aided her.
“First of all, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ is a show within itself like it has such a fun design idea to work with anyway,” senior Josie Holman, who helped with the costume design, said. “It is supposed to be so over the top and so just it’s funny and just in your face and all the things … Steve and Katy both were so good at meeting together and talking about exactly what the vision was and what each character’s costume needed to do functionally but then also what it needed to do visually.”
Although Harding has a costume deck with over 9,000 available costume choices, Holman explained that it was important to get the pieces just right for each show. It was a delicate process of choosing biker shorts to go under Holman’s dress for this particular play, which proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of costume design. However, the little details were what set the costumes apart.
Something else that made the play so different was the award-winning set design put together by Fish. Because “The Play that Goes Wrong” was only open for the public to do performances for a short time, Fish got tasked with the job of designing a second story that would slowly collapse throughout the show while simultaneously keeping cast and crew members safe. He took three months to plan it but only had three weeks to execute the design.
The set, made out of steel, used a series of weights that acted as a balance against the weight of the actors who were on it. This allowed it to be reused each night and sold to another company in Missouri after it served the SSDT.
“It was fun,” Fish said. “It’s nice to be recognized for our accomplishments. And the fun part is the support is like when we realize we’re nominated. I didn’t tell many people but everyone knew and were like, ‘I’m so supporting you and I am so voting for you,’ and they were so enthusiastic about it. It is kind of nice to see people’s support and enthusiasm to vote for us.”
But an empty set and flashy costumes can’t make an award winning show without the actors to fill them. Three of Harding’s very own were nominated for the same award, Best Performer in a Play.
“The truth is, I think they should have nominated everyone on the show because every single person on that show was just on it, carrying their weight,” Patten said. “They [the cast] were such giving artists, and I’m surprised it was just narrowed down to three because the show was equally there.”
Although the entire cast was not nominated, Patten explained that everyone was supportive of his win since he hoped to be doing theater in the future. Although unsure of the next step, Patten said he hoped to always feel welcome in SSDT should he ever return after graduation.