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dismay

Eight actors play 22 roles in Stage Door Players’ second production of last year’s world premiere
‘Let Nothing You Dismay’ by Atlanta playwright Topher Payne. PHOTO BY R. TODD FLEEMAN

Nothing dismays in Stage Door Players production

By Christopher Barker

If you haven’t gotten yourself a Christmas present yet, there’s a special one that won’t fit under a tree.

The second annual Stage Door Players production of Topher Payne’s “Let Nothing You Dismay” is well worth a trip to Dunwoody’s North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center this December. The entire cast of eight is back to present the lightening-fast farce that Stage Door commissioned for a world premiere last December.

Atlanta audiences filled the 125 seats at the 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road theater for many sold-out performances last year, leading to the play winning the 2016 Suzi Bass award (Atlanta’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony awards) for Outstanding World Premiere.

There are eight actors, but audiences see 22 unique characters as the cast demonstrates its proficiency as quick-change artists. The wigs, makeup and costuming are so skillfully done that it’s not always easy to determine which actor has returned to the stage in a different role. Particularly impressive is the cast’s ability to portray elderly characters.

The story revolves around a young couple in a hospital maternity waiting room on Christmas day, anxious for a birth mother to produce the baby they have arranged to adopt. They have asked their unique family members to stay away and wait for them to bring the child home, fearing that family eccentricities might prompt the birth mother to change her mind about adoption.

Of course, family members and their equally eccentric friends ignore their wishes and show up anyway, possibly derailing the adoption process.

Shannon Eubanks directs Bryan Brendle, Amanda Cucher, Mark Gray, Shelly McCook, Doyle Reynolds, Gina Rickicki, Emily Sams and Ben Silver. Stage Door Players Artistic Director Robert Egizio says Payne added and deleted a few lines since the world premiere in 2015, but most of the staging and script replicates last year’s production.

One of Payne’s gifts, says director Eubanks, “is the ability to acutely observe our foibles, while never losing his affection for our best – if often ham-fisted – intentions.” Featured in a Smoke Signals story last January, Payne said he draws on observations of his own family in creating his characters.

Because of the popularity of “Let Nothing You Dismay” last year, Stage Door added Thursday performances to this year’s run, which is on stage at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 18.

Egizio says some of the play’s performances at Dunwoody’s professional theater are close to sold out, but remaining $30 tickets might still be available at 770-396-1726 or stagedoorplayers.net. Discounts are available for seniors, students and youths.

“Let Nothing You Dismay” appears likely to become an Atlanta holiday tradition like Alliance Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” and theater-lovers worthy of a special gift this Christmas might still be able to see why through Dec. 18.

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