Rehearsals were just getting started, but actress Angela Dill could already tell the newest show at the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing was going to be “a hoot and a half.”
The comedy farce Flaming Idiots, by Tom Rooney and directed by Josh Martin, plays at the Riverwalk July 21-24 and 28-31.
Dill plays the character of Bernadette, a deaf woman who’s hired by two bumbling guys looking to open a restaurant.
It was a mushroom hunting accident that caused Bernadette’s hearing impairment, Dill explained, giving an idea of how light-hearted and silly the show is going to be.
The two bumbling guys are the leads in Flaming Idiots, which tells the story of their ill attempts at running a new restaurant. Customers swarm the nearby competition, however, because their eatery witnessed a murder. The solution for these dim-witted entrepreneurs? To stage a murder of their own.
“This is theater having fun,” Dill said describing the rehearsals. “What I like best is the pure silliness of it.”
In a cast full of zany characters, Dill’s Bernadette is the sanest of the bunch. Yet nobody wants to listen to her. And playing a deaf character leaves Dill with a whole lot of physical acting.
“I play my character with reading lips, a lot of body language and writing notes,” she said.
“There’s even a point where I try to make a phone call with Morse code. It’s definitely a full-on farce.”
Dill said she’s been leaning toward a lot of comedy in the past few years, and this one kicks it up another notch.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played a show where people are running in and out of doors and running into each other (with) madness and mayhem.”
She recently finished Distracted, a drama comedy at Peppermint Creek Theatre Company in Lansing, which was a more serious subject matter. Flaming Idiots, she said, felt like an opportunity for her to let her hair down.
“It’s fun to just entertain when other times you want theater to make a point about something in society today,” she said. “This is more about the fun in life and the silliness. I was ready for some silly fun.”
This isn’t Dill’s first show at the Riverwalk. Coming from Indiana, Dill didn’t know what to expect in terms of a theater community here, but she was pleasantly surprised.
“I’ve never seen a more professional atmosphere in a civic community,” she said. “It’s run smoothly, and people are serious and enjoy the work they’re doing. I really enjoy both the people and the talent level in this town; it’s phenomenal. Shows at the Riverwalk are fantastic.”