By Adam Harris
Baylor Theatre’s constantly moving department has been rehearsing for the next show for the semester. The play, “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself),” was cast in the closing days of the production of “Legally Blonde.”
Salem, N.H., graduate student John Michael Sefel, the play’s director, said the audition process for this particular play was unique.
“Many shows ask for a certain look from the actors,” Sefel said. “This one is about the performers.”
Sefel said the lead character was similar to the leads in stories like “Big Fish,” “Life of Pi” and “Finding Neverland.” The story follows Louis de Rougemont, played by Abilene junior Seth Monhollon, and is a tale of a fantastic voyage gone wrong.
“The title reads, ‘as told by himself,’ so I’ve got to tell the story and relate it to the audience,” Monhollon said.
Only one member of the cast, the titular role, plays a single character. Other members of the cast are featured as ensemble members and play multiple parts. Tyler junior Joanna Hughes said she begins the play as a human pick-pocket but said her main role is de Rougemont’s dog and loyal friend.
“I’m going to steal a purse, and it’s the kind of old-school purse that opens wide,” Hughes said. “When I return as the dog, the purse becomes my ears.”
Along with multiple roles for cast members, the ensemble will also produce the on-stage sound effects and music that are integrated into the show. Eagle, Idaho, junior Courtney Stennett said this was part of the audition process as well.
“The second callback I did with friends, and we used random objects to make it sound like we were getting on a boat,” Stennett said. “Then we made it sound like there was a storm at sea, and finally the boat crashed.”
Stennett said she used objects such as pots, pans, sticks and pennies to recreate the sound of the storm. This portion of the audition, Sefel said, was to test the folly aptitude of the actors. Stennett is playing the role of the old, “salty dog”-style Captain Jensen as well as an ensemble member.
Monhollon said the family-like group in the department was very supportive when he was cast.
“It’s a close-knit community, so everyone who was going for the part was still very congratulatory,” Monhollon said.
Sefel said it was difficult to choose the parts for each actor auditioning.
“The most painful thing is how many talented people we had come through for auditions,” Sefel said.
Following the auditions and two rounds of callbacks, the show cast its nine ensemble members as well as three “busker” characters, who will provide sound effects and music on-stage in view of the audience.
A vast amount of creativity goes into this play specifically, Sefel said. For example, an octopus attacks, but the script doesn’t say anything else about it,” Sefel said.
He said this adds an element of ownership that is outside the experience. “Actors and directors have to collaborate to make the idea work,” he said.
“Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)” is in the rehearsal stage and will begin its run Tuesday through Nov. 24.