The Theatre Department’s opening night of quirky “Wonder of the World” keeps students laughing in their seats

Maddy Mesa

Cass, played by Ryan O’Shea, sits on the bus as she embarks on a journey that she hopes will lead her to a new and improved life in Niagara Falls. Photo courtesy of FAU Department of Theatre.

Cass ditched her dull life at home in New York City and took the first bus to Niagara Falls with a blunt and straight-to-the-point “I’m leaving you” to her husband, Kip. This was one of the first scenes in the play “Wonder of the World” by David Lindsay-Abaire put on by the Department of Theatre – and it took the audience on a roller coaster of emotions from start to finish.

Opening night of the play took place at the Studio One Theatre in the Dorthy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. It tells the story of Cass (Ryan O’Shea), an unhappy housewife, who second guesses her life and feels unsatisfied. What if she hadn’t said yes to her now husband of seven years Kip (Taylor Darden) when he proposed to her? That “what if,” along with a laundry list of everything she has wanted to do in her life but hasn’t yet, is the reason why she decides to start to a new life in Niagara Falls.

On her journey, Cass meets a handful of interesting and comical characters, whose neurotic issues and personalities offer comic relief to the audience. The first is suicidal alcoholic Lois (Taylor Staniforth), who plans to go over the falls in a pickle barrel to get back at her husband for leaving her because of her drinking problem. Glen (Wade Appleton) and Karla (Lynn Wilhite), the elderly detectives, play an old married couple whose massive debt has left them no choice but to be hired spies for Kip, who is trying to find out why his wife left him.

While in Niagara Falls, Cass meets Captain Mike (David Meldman), the whimsical tour boat captain of “The Maid of the Mist.” The two fall in love and plan to travel the United States in a Winnebago. But Kip refuses to let go of Cass and asks her to give him one more chance at saving their relationship.

The quirky characters and unusual plot kept some of the audience members on the edge of their seat and laughing the whole time. Junior painting major Kim Heise left the theater a new fan of the show and of the venue. “I thought it was great and the ending was unexpected but nonetheless comical,” Heise said. “The whole thing was comical. I didn’t know that they had such a nice theater there, and I didn’t know they did stuff like that.”

In “Wonder of the World,” Lois, portrayed by Taylor Staniforth wakes up in her Niagara falls hotel room surrounded by empty mini-bottles of complimentary liquor. Photo courtesy of FAU Department of Theatre.

But the folks in the audience weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. Some cast members had an enjoyable experience working with a bizarre script. “It was really great because when you work with a script that’s so goofy and silly, we all tried something new every night,” Appleton, a junior performance major with a focus in acting, said. “It’s just always funny and always so much fun to do. It was a lot of great energy.”

Though the play was well done and enjoyable to both audience and cast, there was hardly anyone there. About 20 people came to the play’s opening night and sat in a theater that could house 150.

Some of the cast members are hopeful more people will hear about the play through friends and word of mouth. “I hope word will spread on campus and more people will come to see it and be a little more aware of the Theatre Department,” junior theatre performance major Sam Iglehart said, who played the clown/marriage counselor. “I’d like to see more of FAU being interested in the Theatre Department because we put on a lot of shows besides the main stage. It would be great to see more people come out and see that stuff.”