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The Play That Goes Wrong Cast Sounds Off on Perfect Comedies, Epic Onstage Mishaps, Audience Interactions & Their Comedy Influences

February 27th, 2019 by

JoshuaFerri Share
The Play That Goes Wrong Cast Sounds Off on Perfect Comed...

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Like Tony winners Avenue Q and Jersey Boys before them, the Tony and Olivier Award-winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong found new life off-Broadway at New World Stages. The hit international production has a new home but all the same LOL gags, goops, and fiery disasters fans have come to know and love.

The Play That Goes Wrong- off Broadway-NYC-New World Stages

Photo by Jeremy Daniel


BroadwayBox caught up with the brand-new stars of off-Broadway’s The Play That Goes Wrong to hear from them about real-life mishaps, perfect comedies, and their dream comedian dinner party.

Matt Harrington (Chris Bean)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Matt Harrington (Chris Bean

1. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
I suppose this is technically an offstage mishap, but I once missed an entrance. By about a minute. My dressing room was two stories down from the deck and by the time I got onstage I was completely winded, half-dressed with my wig barely hanging on. The orchestra had been vamping the entire time. It wasn’t subtle. I’m not proud.

2. What do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
The Importance of Being Earnest. Perfect comedy and perfect play.

3. Three words to describe your Cornley Drama Society character:
Meticulous. Judgmental. Determined.

4. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
I promise I’m not making this up to sell tickets, but the first time I saw The Play That Goes Wrong is probably the hardest I’ve laughed at the theater. Particularly when things started going awry up in the study in the second act.

5. What scares you the most about performing this show each night?
Probably the fear that things might go right. There are so many moving parts to this play and there’s always a part of my mind that is bracing for the backup plan if things don’t go wrong.

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
Jon Stewart because I think he's one of the sharpest wits alive today and I'd want to talk to him about absolutely everything. Richard Pryor (may he rest in peace), because his movies have brought me so much joy and I think he's hilarious. And Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer because, c'mon, it's Abbi and Ilana.

Brent Bateman (Robert Grove)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Brent Bateman (Robert Grove)

1. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
I was doing a show in which I would get rigged up to “fly” in the middle of a song and then spend the rest of the song flying around the stage with a couple of children. On one occasion, as I was making my entrance to begin the scene, a stage manager called out to me, “You’re not going to fly!” I was on stage, preparing to sing a song all about how myself and these two children were flying... the whole point of the song is that we are flying. Time slowed way down in my mind and I managed (I think) to improvise lyrics that had more to do with taking a journey in our imaginations. I’m not really sure what words came out of my mouth. My two child scene partners were completely confused, but we got through it. Theatre magic!!!

2. Three words to describe your Cornley Drama Society character:
Booming
Invested
Magnificent

3. When you were growing up, what did you consider the funniest movie you knew?
I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so much as I did when I first watched The Three Amigos. I saw it when I was very young with my family and we were all in stitches. It still works on me.

4. As an adult, what do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
Easy. Best In Show. I love all the Christopher Guest projects as well. But to me, Best In Show is perfect.

5. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
When I was in high school I saw a touring production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged). I had never experienced that amazing balance of high and low brow humor in person before. It was ripe for teenage theatre nerd me.

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
Carol Burnett—She’s the greatest of all time. And she always seems so humble and gracious.
Chris Farley—Forever a fan of his complete investment in his given circumstances.
Eddie Murphy—I watched his stand-up specials over and over and over as a kid. He’s an absolute master.
Steve Carell—I so admire how intertwined his comedic and dramatic abilities are. He can make you laugh and cry at the same time.
This would be a really strange dinner party.

Bianca Horn (Annie Twilloil)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-NYC- Bianca Horn (Annie Twilloil)

1. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
I was a part of a workshop for a new show and the character I was playing was blind. While performing one of my solos, I closed my eyes wanting to commit to who this character was. While my eyes were closed, I had a nose bleed that formed a frightfully big puddle. The crew had to come on stage to clean the blood and I had to ice my face for 5-10 mins and then finished the whole show with tissue up my nose. Some moments you can’t make up.

2. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
The Play That Goes Wrong. I saw the show last October to support a friend and laughed for two hours straight. My husband thought something was seriously wrong with me. I laughed until I cried.

3. What excites you the most about performing this show each night?
It’s never the same show! Live theatre is exhilarating that way, but this show more so than others. The audience truly is a part of this story and each night the energy they give us is difference. It keeps the show fresh and exciting for all of us!

4. What scares you the most about performing this show each night?
Not being present. This show is really an ensemble piece, and if I’m not present to support my fellow actors we can’t tell this fun and exciting story the way it should be told. This is my challenge before each performance. To let go of the day and to be alert and prepared for whatever might happen at the opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor.

5. What do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
There are so many I can’t pick one. My top three are Coming to America, The Monk TV Series, and When Harry Met Sally.

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
Carol Burnett—Queen of Comedy. Period.
Tony Shalhoub—Detail character work that is layered with honesty and truth; he is a brilliant actor.
Nell Carter—Great comedic timing, stage presence, and amazing voice.
Bernie Mac-—King of Comedy, “milk and cookies” says it all.

Ryan Vincent Anderson (Trevor Watson)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Ryan Vincent Anderson (Trevor Watson)

1. When you were growing up, what did you consider the funniest movie you knew?
I’d say Coming to America. Old school Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Everyone remembers “Sexual Chocolate”.

2. As an adult, what do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
I usually come back to Step Brothers. I love dumb humor done seriously. Best in Show is very close.

3. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
I can be a tough nut to crack in an audience. But one time I was at a comedy club in LA years ago and actually fell out my seat with stomach pains after a female comic made a pretty offensive, politically incorrect, yet funny joke. I wouldn’t dare repeat it here. You can ask me in private over a drink.

4. What excites you the most about performing this show each night?
I love knowing that night after night we get to give the gift of laughter to many people. It is so necessary in this world. Especially nowadays. It is healing. It brings people together.

5. Three words to describe your Cornley Drama Society character:
Is it over?

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, and Laurel and Hardy. Covers all the bases from potty-mouth humor to dumb humor to genius comedy duos.

Matt Walker (Max Bennett)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Matt Walker (Max Bennett)

1. When you were growing up, what did you consider the funniest movie you knew?
Mrs. Doubtfire is up there. Robin Williams was very inspiring to me, how he brought such a spirit of play and improv and wonder to it.

2. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
I remember almost crying with laughter at Tom Edden’s waiter in One Man Two Guvnors. That was commedia at its best for me.

3. What excites you the most about performing this show each night?
The audiences are so different, which makes it a fresh experience each night. Especially for my character, Max, who gets to respond to the audience quite a bit.

4. What scares you the most about performing this show each night?
I’m still terrified that a prop or set piece will fly off into the audience. Don’t tell that to anyone, though!

5. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
I was playing Hamlet and my rapier snapped in the end of the final fight. The tip flew into the audience. Thankfully nobody got cut up, and we carried on!

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
Robin Williams, Sacha Baron Cohen, Mindy Kaling and Groucho Marx. I really admire them all.

Ashley Reyes (Sandra Wilkinson)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Ashley Reyes (Sandra Wilkinson)

1. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
The first time I saw this play! I was crying of laughter by the end of the first act and was in total awe of it during the second.

2. What excites you the most about performing this show each night?
Doing this show is like the theater equivalent of being a rock star. Hearing people cheering and yelling back at us by the end of the show is such a rush.

3. When you were growing up, what did you consider the funniest movie you knew?
Growing up I loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail… and Malibu’s Most Wanted.

4. As an adult, what do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
Waiting for Guffman. I could watch it 1,000 times and it would never get old.

5. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
Pretty similarly to Annie in our show, I was once choreographing a musical and our male lead the day of opening had to pull out of the show. Since I knew all of the parts and the movement… the director asked me if I would do it for our opening. So, I went on as the male romantic lead and couldn’t sing most of the notes because they were too low. But hey ho.

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite?
Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Alexis Guerreros, and Catherine O’Hara.

Bartley Booz (Dennis Tyde)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Bartley Booz (Dennis Tyde)

1. What do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

2. What scares you the most about performing this show each night?
That I’ll break!

3. Three words to describe your Cornley Drama Society character:
Articulate. Punctual. Professional. Brave, even.

4. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
John Mulaney at Radio City. I laughed so hard I went blind.

5. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
During a pretty climactic scene in a college production I shouted the wrong line. It was a pretty pivotal plot point. Could have been useful.

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite?
Steve Martin, John Cleese, Bob Newhart, and Mike Birbiglia.

Chris Lanceley (Jonathan Harris)

The Play That Goes Wrong- off-Broadway-Chris Lanceley (Jonathan Harris)

1. When you were growing up, what did you consider the funniest movie you knew?
Monty Python's the Life of Brian. Holy Grail comes in a close second though! I was first introduced to it by a school mate of mine when a group of us were over at his house. I remember him putting in the VHS while one of us stood guard at the door in case his parents were coming! We were definitely a bit too young for it at the time and half the jokes went way over my head but it was just silly enough for my adolescent brain to latch onto as "the funniest film ever". As I got older, those jokes that went over my head began to make sense and it just got even funnier! It also gave us one of the best and funniest songs of all time!

2. As an adult, what do you consider a near-perfect comedy?
I'm leaving movies and heading over to TV. The Royle Family, a British show about a working class northern family that takes place entirely inside their home is as close to perfect as it comes. Every moment of laughter is brought about in the most delicate and subtle manner and while they're a family with immense flaws, they're so real that you end up loving each and every one of them. This sets up some really beautiful moments as the family navigate major life events and their humanity shines through their pretty rugged exteriors!

3. What excites you the most about performing this show each night?
Each night's audience. Every night it's different. Some nights, it's non-stop laughter for 2 hours. Other audiences are dedicated to following the murder mystery and listen through moments of intense plot. Sometimes there's a loud laugher or someone with a distinctive laugh, and it's great to see how that winds up the cast of The Murder At Haversham Manor, who simply don't think they should be laughed at. Each night brings something new.

4. When have you laughed the most as a live audience member?
I had the great pleasure of seeing the comic Bill Bailey at Stand Up NY a few years ago. He sells out arenas in the UK, and so I couldn't believe I was seeing him in a tiny room on the Upper West Side! There was some magic that night, there must have been. He absolutely killed it in front of a room filled with people who had mostly never heard of him!

5. What’s been the biggest onstage mishap you’ve experienced in your lifetime?
A lighting bar fell down during a production of The Scottish play during intermission. I was teaching drama at a school in the UK and halfway through their production, with the cast in the dressing rooms, something locked up in the mechanism and the whole bar filled with lights crashed down onto the stage. The bar was too big to move off the stage—and we couldn't take it out through the curtains and past the audience—so the whole second act happened with the cast avoiding a huge mangled bar of lights propped up in the corner as well as section of the stage that was dark as night! Blocking was changed that night!

6. You are hosting a dinner with four of your comedy idols, who gets the invite and why?
John Cleese since he has experience with the fine dining experience from his time in Fawlty Towers and, you know, Monty Python might just be something I'd enjoy talking about. Christopher Guest would be the next invite for being the vanguard of the mockumentary genre that's produced so much great comedy in the years since This is Spinal Tap. I'd invite Tim Minchin— he's one of the first comics I saw live—his music is absolutely hilarious as well as politically relevant and as the composer and lyricist of Matilda and Groundhog Day we could chat Broadway all night! Finally, I'd invite my granddad, Roy Cooper. No one made me laugh more than him growing up. He was a brilliant storyteller and lit up every family occasion with his humour, always looking for the next laugh. It'd be great to hang out with him again!

Don’t miss the new cast of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ live at off-Broadway’s New World Stages.