Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

The premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and announcements in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jan 06, 2022

Cougar Theatre’s ‘Exit the Body’ Brightens the Stage

By Les Pierce

The Cougar Theatre’s debut of “The Addams Family” was scheduled for March 12, 2020. However, literally hours before the curtain was to rise, the production was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, and weeks of preparation and rehearsal went for naught.

The CNHS theater has been dark since that closing. On Dec. 2, the spotlights finally hit the stage once again for a three-day showing of the mystery comedy “Exit the Body.”

The fast-paced play was a perfect choice for a renewal of the program. The story involves a famous mystery writer who rents an old home in rural New England as a getaway. However, her need for rest goes unfulfilled. The action starts promptly as she discovers a body in the hall closet moments after arriving.

Minutes later, the body disappears. Later, a second body is found in the same closet, and it disappears as well.  

Central to the plot is the fact that a gang of jewel thieves were previous tenants and the gems were hidden somewhere on the premises, bringing plenty of intruders in and out at all hours of the night.  

The third and final act features hilarious action as the cast members make multiple entrances and exits via the set’s many portals, including the closet which has two doors.  

Perfect timing was required of the cast to render the final act with all of the coming and going. The production was obviously well rehearsed, yet the spontaneity was preserved to deliver the desired comedic effect.

Embedded in the tale were mistaken identities and a husband mix-up. All is revealed in the end, including the identities of some people who were not quite who audience members thought they were. 

Cast members who brought this gem of a tale to life were Gianna Canova as Lillian Seymour, Anastaysia Vasilenko as Jenny, Saverio Renda as Randolph, Olivia Henein as Helen O’Toole, Isabella Pietrofesa as Kate Bixley, Alexandra Risi as Crane Hammond, Daniel Rozenberg as Vernon Cookley, Nicholas Giordano as Lyle Rogers, Dylan Duru as Philip Smith and Ryan Westrich as Richard Hammond.  

Abigail Green served as the student producer. Scenic painting was done by Jenna Weiss, Lily Barth and Nina Clifton. The tech crew was staffed by Elizabeth Connors, Iyu Franklyn-Ayeni, Joshua Weiss, Michael Fetter and Ria Karam.  

“Exit the Body” was the Cougar Theatre directorial review for Alana Herron.  

“It is great to have live theater back this year on the CNHS stage and to be able to share it with an audience,” stated Herron. “As an arts educator, it is also a joy to create live theater with students and see their enjoyment of that process shine on stage.”