Greensburg Civic Theater’s ‘Play That Goes Wrong’ promises big laughs

If calamity befalls the Greensburg Civic Theater’s next production, they’ll know they got it right. Organized chaos is the goal when you present something called “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

The award-winning comedy will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Greensburg Garden & Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road.

In the 2012 play performed by members of the British Mischief Theater Company, the fictional Cornley University theater company presents a performance of “The Murder at Haversham Manor”, a 1920s murder mystery similar to “The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie.

During the performance, disaster strikes both the cast and the set, in the form of missed cues, forgotten lines, stuck doors, falling props, and more mayhem.

The play won Best New Comedy at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards in London.

Vandergrift director Ron Ferrara compares it to another play within a play, Michael Frayn’s popular Broadway farce, “Noises Off.”

“I think ‘Noises Off’ is the greatest farce ever written, and that’s the kind of play it is,” he said. “It’s not as intellectual, but it’s just as fun and even more challenging.”

Courtesy of Teresa Baughman

Actors (standing from left) Josh Kinneer, Rachel Nicely and Joe Schneider with Erik Smith (on couch) rehearse for the Greensburg Civic Theater’s production of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ October 7-9.

It’s a lot for the director, the actors and the audience to stay straight. Each actor portrays a member of the drama society who also plays a character in the murder mystery – and therefore must develop a separate persona for each character.

“It’s also very physical,” Ferrara said. “They fall on the ground, they crawl on the ground. Each actor is on the floor at least once.

During the action, there is a sword fight, two women fight over a man, and someone is shot through a window.

This is Ferrara’s first time directing a GCT production, although he is a veteran of over 150 productions as an actor and director with companies in the region such as The Theater Factory, Saint Vincent Summer Theater and the former Apple Hill Players and New Kensington Civic Theatre.

The cast includes Craig Soich from Greensburg, Stu Ford from Grapeville, Erik Smith from Scottdale, Joe Schneider from New Kensington, Justin Williams from Greensburg, Josh Kinneer from Donegal, Rachel Nicely from Latrobe and Shannon Riley from Irwin.

Vince D’Angelo of Oakmont is stage manager.

“There’s not just one star in the show, it’s an ensemble,” Ferrara said. “In this room, one person cannot be alone – they all need each other. If one person is in the wrong place, it changes the whole scene.

After five weeks of rehearsal, the lines are still fresh for Ferrare and company.

“I always laugh and the cast always laughs,” he said. “This is not your typical show – you will laugh your head off.”

Tickets for “The Play That Goes Wrong” are $16 in advance and $18 at the door. Senior rates are $14 and $16. Student rates are $11 and $13.

For information and reservations, call 724-836-8000 or visit

Shirley McMarlin is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Shirley by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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