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Setting the stage for comedy

Set builders for USF’s production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” outdid themselves with a lavish drawing-room scene created for the School of Creative Arts fall production in the USF Performing Arts Center the first two weekends in November.

Local actors and USF faculty, alumni and students drew belly laughter from the audience with their delivery of witty lines for the show business personalities and Stanley household characters created by playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

In what director Brad Beauchamp called “another classic comedy piece by Kaufman and Hart,” Blackhawk Middle School drama director and regional actor Christopher Murphy cracked up the audience with his blustering, bullying and self-centered portrayal of celebrity radio show host, Sheridan Whiteside.

Sidelined in the home of the wealthy Stanley family by an injury sustained in a fall leaving their home after dinner, he continues to feign injury in order to meddle in the love life of his long-time assistant, Maggie Cutler, as well as the lives of the Stanley family members. In doing so, he takes over the Stanley home at Christmas time, banishes the family to the upper level, orders their house staff around and terrorizes his nurse, Miss Preen, played in appropriately beleaguered fashion by local actress Susan Domer.

Meanwhile, subplots involving the beset Stanley family emerge, celebrities come and go from the house, Whiteside’s gift penguins escape from a crate and general mayhem ensues.

USF communication and theater professor Aaron Willoughby appears as the young newsman and love interest of Cutler, played by national actress and local television host Emily Murphy. USF students Stacie Woempner, Clare Ramel, Nicole Rudolf, Jamie Schueler, Jake Markowski, Jade Light, Lilliana Craighead, Alexis Claflin, Brandon Hathaway and Melissa Buenconsejo, along with 2012 USF communication graduate Quentin Jenkins, also play support and major roles.

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