MacWreck! A Love Letter to Theater: Mishaps, Ghosts, and Unforgettable Moments

In penning the script for “MacWreck!” writer-director Laura Darling has penned a love letter to theater and all the mishaps that go along with producing it. This premiere production by Confetti Stage (hosted by the Shaker Heritage Society) was inspired by events at one of their own short play festivals where Laura and another tech were trapped in a closet trying to fix the lights after the breaker had tripped. On the night, a critic was there, of course. Cue the line, “Man, you can’t write this…” Add to this recipe the many stories of theater ghosts creating mischief (I’ve experienced such mischief myself), and it turns out not only could Laura write it, but how could she not? 

Front: Emily Rae Fernandes, Sara Paupini, John Quinan

In the play, the fictional group Mainstage has decided to put on “Macbeth” for their summer Shakespeare production, complete with a new director. In addition to the previously mentioned mishaps, the community center where they’re performing has been double-booked, and as of their last rehearsal, the sets are still being painted, the costumes have yet to arrive, and their actors can’t get along with each other. As Act 1 unfolds, more problems arise than are resolved. The creative solution arrived at in the play’s second Act was thrilling and spine-chilling. 

The technical aspects of “MacWreck!” showed varying attention to detail- epitomized by the costuming, which varied from lackluster in Act 1 to stellar for the play-within-the-play. The lighting was primarily routine but was satisfyingly moody during the Shakespeare scenes. While the sound effects were mostly too quiet to be heard over the fans attempting to cool the room, the props, by Jen Bart and Mark Salomon, were a highlight of the night, superb, and presented with an excellent dichotomy between the two acts. (Any more explanation would require spoilers.) 

John Quinan and Emily Rae Fernandes

Laura has chosen a superb cast to tread the boards and guides them expertly. As Molly, the “Macbeth” stage manager, Emily Rae Fernandes shines bright, particularly when commanding the stage near the top of the show. It’s a shame she is the one who gets locked in the closet and isn’t seen for a while. Sara Paupini plays the director of “Macbeth” with a perfectly put-upon air. One can really see her wondering, “Just what have I gotten myself into?” As the play’s set designer, Amy Hausknecht portrays a very familiar character whose perfectionism prevents her from getting her own work done. Yet she tries to offer unwanted help in areas that are not her expertise. “Macbeth’s” producer tries his incompetent hardest to keep things running, yet he is played expertly by John Quinan. Perhaps John is channeling some of the colleagues he’s known in his long career as a NY State Worker! Sean T. Baldwin clearly has a blast portraying Cal, the overworked lighting designer, who is basically in panic mode the entire time. Finally, the acting ensemble members keep high energy during their humorous interchanges. For example, these actors playing actors take great fun in torturing a newbie to the stage, much to the delight of us in the audience. Upon Molly’s return from the closet when she’s convinced to stay, the entirety of the ensemble is IN the scene, even when they have no lines. This can be rare with a cast this size; so much credit to both the actors and Laura’s direction.  

She has also crafted a tight script full of delights for theater pros, ardent fans, or just about anyone looking for a night’s entertainment. One weekend remains from Thursday to Sunday. Never mind the breakers, don’t miss your chance to see this premiere before the lights go down on it FOR REAL. 

Acting Ensemble

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