DV “Parlor Games.”

Huddled around Will Lombardi in a coffin are other cast members of the Desert Vista High School theater group’s production of “Parlor Games.” They are, from left: Michael Stecyk, Shawn Evans, Palmira Federico, Ava Rice, Lucas Rooney, Eliana Burns and Audrey Williams.

Kimberly Carrillo/AFN Photographer

There probably aren’t many comedies in which coffins play a big role, but the spring play Desert Vista High School thespians will present is an exception.

The Thunder Theatre Company will present “Parlor Games” at 7 p.m. tomorrow, April 19, and at 4 and 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, at the school’s Black Box Theater.

Theater company President Eliana Burns said caskets were a challenge for the tech theater class, which designed and built the set.

“They have to build three identical coffins from scratch that can be wheeled around stage and have a body thrown into it. That was probably the most challenging part,” Eliana, a senior, said.

Coffins are integral to the central plot of the comedy, about a practical joker who hosts his own wake. Though his wife initially goes along, she eventually tries to convince the mourners that he’s really alive. They in turn assume she is just in denial.

A series of mistaken identities, chases and jokes within jokes within jokes culminate in a suprise party where she tries to teach her husband a lesson about practical jokes.

Though the play never made either Broadway or Off-Broadway, it’s gathered some followings in community theaters and other venues where it’s been mounted.

One reviewer called it “one of the funniest and fun shows I have ever seen. All of the characters are interesting and bring something to this show, even the small roles.”

One high school director in Indiana wrote, “‘Parlor Games’ was fun for both the audience and the actors. I was most pleased to find a script with many small parts to get kids on stage for the first time and more girl parts than boy parts a bonus.”

A Missouri school director, who said her students “are in stitches” at rehearsals, called it a “very clever, well-written comedy and as much fun for the actors as the audience.”

Eliana agrees, stating, “The script itself is very funny, and the set could be nicely built to fit in and complement our Black Box Theatre.”

Director/mentor Jim Fountain chose the play, which Eliana called “a clever comedic farce that is well-staged and directed and featuring some of our best acting talent.”

Eliana plays the practical joker’s wife, Tricia McNulty, opposite Will Lombardi, who plays husband Mort.

There are 14 other students in the cast, including: Ava Rice (Roberta Kluzinski), Shawn Evans (Dave Collins), Lucas Rooney (Judge John Fahey), Audrey Williams (Kay Ingalls),  Micheal Stecyk (Harley Allenbrand), Palmira Federico (Mrs. Grace McNulty), Serena Khan (Grandma), Mantra Rostami (Ma), Meghan Perales (Daughter), Lauren Mooney (Diane Kukelski), Jaime Ross (Fiona Belanger), Belle Benavides (Alice Hochenbeck), Andrew Brungard (Voice), Andrew Dull (Bubba).

The crew, which does not include the tech theater class that built the set, is enarly twice the size of the cast.

It includes: stage manager Danielle Hale and Tanner Berschel, Ashlyn Healy, Natalie Hale, Ray Dutton, Kiersten Mason, Curtis Peterson, Adelyn Larsen, Delani Piasecki, Chloe Spackman, Emma Torgrimson, Meghan Stoff, Bella Romano, Saadiya Patrick, Maggie Brake, Alexandra Kostich, Alex Magewick, Kaylin McDonald, Nick Stonecipher, McKenzi Kelly, Kristen Kibby, Ava Schwartz, Maritza Kozicki, Rozie Rafacz and Alexandra VanLare.

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