American Stage Theatre Company director Todd Olson calls “Around the World in 80 Days” an audacious, over-the-top experience.
“It’s five actors on a wild ride,” he says. “It’s also part magic act. How do they get through all those places and become all those characters on one stage?”
Based on the Jules Verne story (and not the 1956 big-screen epic with David Niven and bevy of Hollywood stars), this comedy, adapted by Marc Brown, has five actors portraying 33 characters.
In the cast are local talents Brad DePlanche, Matthew McGee, Jonelle Marie Meyer, Brian Webb Russell and Brian Shea.
“It’s been just a blast to rehearse.” Olson says. “The key is finding real actors that can embrace the fun of this, as well as creating a stage versatile enough to pull it off with bits and pieces popping out everywhere.”
The story follows the dapper and daring adventurer Phileas Fogg and his faithful valet, Passepartout, as they race around the world on a bet.
Olson says the play is closer to Verne’s 1872 novel than the epic film which became known for having 50 international film stars in cameos.
“It’s a lot of costume changes, a lot of dialogue, a lot of everything,” says actor McGee, who plays 18 characters.
“The story moves along at a clip. Once the play starts, hold on to your hat, we move.” Among his characters are the British Consul, a blustery American colonel, an Indian priest, and a Chinese opium den waiter.
“It’s super funny and has romance and drama. In fact, this show has it all and it is the perfect show for the whole family” McGee adds. “There are plays that children wouldn’t enjoy, but they would like this one.”