• July 14, 2014

Character actors

Cast of five takes on 32 characters in VLA’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’

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Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 3:15 pm, Fri Jul 19, 2013.

Those familiar with the Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in 80 Days,” will know it is a story about traveling great distances.

Scenes in the straight play of the same name — which opens today at Vive Les Arts Theatre in Killeen — take place over the decks of ships, European railcars, Polynesian huts and even the back of an elephant.

However, most impressive about this local theater performance is that the small cast of five actors portray 32 characters. In other words, they travel through a lot of costumes.

Actor Jonathan Spear, who plays nine characters including the supporting role of Detective Fix, said the cast was kept small on purpose, in part for comedic effect.

“The whole dynamic of the play revolves around those character changes,” Spears said.

“We really have to come up for each other and be there for each other and it makes us stronger that way.”

Set in the late 19th century, the plot summons Englishman Phileas Fogg, played by Scott Mather, to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days or less in order to fulfill an absurd bet made in the English Reform Club.

Throughout his misadventures, Fogg runs into strange and funny characters from around the globe, including a Chinese broker and a Middle Eastern Parsi.

With more crew than cast, young actress 17-year-old Katie Morrisey took on the lion’s share of 17 characters in the play, most of which are older men.

Director Charlotte O’Brien said that she picked Morrisey, an experienced song-and-dance performer, because she knew the role would challenge her.

“It’s a lot harder for performers to have only their acting and not to depend on their dancing and singing,” O’Brien said.

“I keep telling her, ‘Think how much better this will make you.’”

Evening performances begin at 7 today and Saturday, April 5 and April 6. A final matinee performance will be given at 2 p.m. April 7.

General admission is $20, student price is $15. Military service members receive a $2 discount. For tickets, call the box office at (254) 526-9090. Vive Les Arts Theatre is at 3401 S. W.S. Young Drive in Killeen.

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