Southold School District

‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ opens at Southold High School this weekend

The Southold Drama Club is ready to break a leg with their upcoming rendition of “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

The production marks the 30th time that Jessica Ellwood and Casey Rooney have co-directed a play together. 

“We love a good challenge and [this production] is certainly that,” said Mr. Rooney, who also helps create the club’s dynamic set designs. “It’s a very unusual show, because it’s a play-within-a-play.”

The comedy, written in 2012 by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, was described as a “hilarious hybrid of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes,” on the 2017 Broadway production’s website

Utilizing the play-within-a-play format popularized in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the show begins with opening night of “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” a fictitious murder mystery set in the 1920s, where things quickly deteriorate from bad to disastrous.

“Everything that can go wrong, goes wrong,” Ms. Ellwood said.

The idea to stage the show at Southold High School came to Ms. Ellwood and Mr. Rooney when they took students to see it on Broadway in 2018.

The drama club has been rehearsing for their production since mid-December. The cast is comprised of roughly 30 students ranging from eighth to twelfth grade and both directors said they have risen to the challenges the show brings.

“We’ve got great comedic actors,” Ms. Ellwood said.


Senior Naomi Mraz, who plays the show’s drama queen, Sandra, is a theater veteran, having been involved in the drama club since sixth grade and participating in every school play or musical since.

“[Sandra] is so much fun to play because she just has meltdown after meltdown,” Mraz said, “and it’s socially acceptable for me to do it on stage.”

This year marks senior Brendan Kilcommons’ first return to the theater program since freshman year, playing a member of the “stage crew” for the play-within-a-play. He described the crew as “the ones who make everything go wrong.”

“I’ve really enjoyed playing this part just because I get to play it with so many other people [on the “crew”], so its not just mine,” he said.

There will also be some audience participation, according to the directors.

This is the first year the drama club will stage a play rather than a musical in the spring season. The club typically performs plays in the fall and musicals in the spring, but the company’s most recent show was “Elf The Musical,” which was performed for the holidays.

“This is a very fun play, because really — let’s face it — crowds come out for musicals and not always as much for plays — but this is a very exciting and hilarious play,” Mr. Rooney said.

The show will be performed at the Southold District Auditorium on March 10 and 11 at 7 p.m., and March 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students, and can be purchased at Southold Free Library or at the door.

“There’s going to be laughs and gasps, some new performers that no one has seen on stage before [and] some crafty veterans,” Ms. Ellwood said, highlighting some of the surprises audiences can look forward to. “You’re going to want to come and see it again.”