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Thu 04 May 2017 return to previous page


The Interview That Goes Wrong....


Henry Shields/Chris Bean

The Play That Goes Wrong
Henry Shields/Chris Bean

Mischief Theatre (under the guise of the Cornley University Drama Society) has been taking the West End by storm over the last few years, even winning the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2015. Now, this farcical troupe has set its sights on conquering Broadway with its debut production The Play That Goes Wrong, currently playing at the Lyceum Theatre.

The New York Theatre Guide had the esteemed privilege of talking to the mastermind behind the Cornley University Drama Society's tremendous (and perhaps slightly surprising) success - Director Chris Bean (aka actor/writer Henry Shields), who was good enough to enlighten us with his pearls of theatrical wisdom. How does he manage to maintain composure, when anything could go wrong at any time? How does he guide his flock through the treacherous terrain of murder mystery? Why does my back always itch in the same place? Who cares?...

Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Lewis in The Play That Goes Wrong
Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer & Henry Lewis
in The Play That Goes Wrong
More Production Photos

Thomas Hayden Millward: How are you and the rest of the Cornley University Drama Society settling into life on the Broadway? Have you found there to be any surprising similarities with Cornley High Street?

Chris Bean: We are having a wonderful time here in New York. We were particularly surprised to see many McDonalds restaurants have opened here. According to the official Cornley town records, the first McDonalds opened in Cornley town centre in 1995. We're very pleased to find Mr. McDonalds is doing so well.

THM: For some reason your productions never quite seem to run smoothly. What have been some of the more disastrous examples of things going wrong on stage?

CB: We prefer not to dwell on the past but since you ask, the worst thing that ever happened during one of our productions was when Robert Grove played the eponymous bat in “Bat's Big Breakfast,” a one-man children's show in which he would hang upside down dressed as a bat and cook the audience a full English breakfast. In the opening performance Robert passed out after seven minutes of hanging upside down and remained unconscious for the rest of the hour. The bacon was badly burned.

THM: As director of “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” how much responsibility do you take yourself for everything going so appallingly badly?

CB: None.

Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields & Dave Hearn in The Play That Goes Wrong
Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields & Dave Hearn
in The Play That Goes Wrong
More Production Photos

THM: We are sorry that we missed your scaled-down production of “Cat”… Are there any plans for a future musical production (aka The Musical That Goes Wrong)?

CB: We hope to stage a production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” Due to the gender imbalance in the Cornley company however, it will be renamed “Two Brides, Several Mannequins and a Dog for Seven Brothers.”

THM: Have there been any complaints from those audience members who were expecting to see “Hamilton,” but landed at the Lyceum Theatre instead due to ticketing issues?

CB: At first we did receive a lot of complaints, but those have stopped since we started telling people our actor Max is actually Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Play That Goes Wrong is currently booking through to December 30, 2017 at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre. Click HERE for tickets!

- by Thomas Hayden Millward

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