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Students Touch Audience’s Funny Bone in Drama Club’s French Farce ‘A Flea in Her Ear’

January 28, 2015

Flea In Her Ear Cast

Talented Students: Drama Club Director Terence Hartnett, assistant professor of English and director of theatre programs, believes “creative thinking, intelligence, innovation, work ethic, time management are all crucial attributes for an engineer and an actor. We have plenty of people here with those skills.”

Rose-Hulman students will stretch their acting talents and in the process touch the audience’s funny bone in the Drama Club’s production of Georges Feydeau’s classic French farce, A Flea in Her Ear, on the Hatfield Hall Theater stage during the next two weekends.

The play, written in 1907, centers around Raymonde Chandebise (Alia Robinson), who suspects that her husband, Victor (Ryan Seale), a mild-mannered insurance executive, is secretly having an affair. Hoping to confirm her suspicions, she and her friend Lucienne (Monya Wolf) write him an anonymous love letter that suggests a rendezvous at the seedy Frisky Puss Hotel.

Thinking that the letter was intended for his employee, the lady’s man Tournel (Chad Jones), Victor sends him off to make the rendezvous in his place. Lucienne's jealous Spanish husband, meanwhile, finds the letter, recognizes his wife's handwriting, and takes his pistols to the hotel, hoping to catch her in the act.

In the meantime, Victor's nephew Camille (Nick Heshelman) tries to warn everyone about the mix up, but his ridiculous speech impediment prevents anyone from understanding him.

The twists and hilarity continue in the second act, when the drunken bellboy Poche (also played by Seale) is the exact double of the very conventional Victor Chandebise. Meeting Poche and thinking she has been caught by her husband, Raymonde keeps trying to escape from the hotel with Tournel, but a revolving bed keeps flinging them from room to room. As more of the involved parties pile into the hotel, there’s a climax with the entrance of the jealous Spaniard and his pistols.

Flea Image

Twists And Turns: The French farce A Flea in Her Ear has allowed Drama Club members to showcase their many acting and comedic talents on the Hatfield Hall Theater stage. (Photos by Nathan Montgomery)

The vortex spins even faster in the third act as all the parties return to the Chandebise home utterly confused about what actually happened, and who precisely was at the Frisky Puss. The drunken bellboy arrives, is mistaken once again for Victor, and all the threads of the multiple mix ups are sorted out as Victor and Raymonde recognize their mutual confusions and are reunited.

“What endears the play to audiences is the joyful and exuberant humor. The play is extremely funny. There is everything from sophisticated language play to slapstick comedy,” says the production’s director Terence Hartnett, Rose-Hulman’s assistant professor of English and director of theatre programs. “Part of the reason the play selection committee picked A Flea in her Ear was because it would challenge the drama club in new ways. The cast worked diligently on the comic timing, being aware of this challenge since the very first rehearsal.”

Other Rose-Hulman students in the show’s cast are Emily Barker, Scott Blankenbaker, Andrzej Ciepiela, Sarah Eberhardt, Matt Fletcher, James Kwak, Marlo Niverson, Peter Savkovich, and Devon Timaeus. Students also play a significant role in the technical production, with Addie Hanchett serving as the lighting designer, Gabby Grande as stage manager, Zachary Schafer as assistant stage manager, and Rachael Illic as assistant choreographer. Several musicians will also perform the play’s sound track in a small orchestra, directed by Norm Hanson.

Members of the show’s technical and directing staffs include Rachel Weber as assistant director, Jessica Becker as costume designer, Michael Compton as set designer, Randy Carle as production manager, and Patti Willey as choreographer.

“We have extraordinarily talented actors and technicians that want to learn and work hard. From lights to set to costumes to sound to stage managing, the technical crew has risen to the challenge and hit it out of the park for this show,” Hartnett states. “Creative thinking, intelligence, innovation, work ethic, time management are all crucial attributes for an engineer and an actor. We have plenty of people here with those skills.”

The first-year director continues, “We have very talented students from all academic departments acting in the Rose Drama Club. Rose-Hulman students tend to be highly motivated and intelligent people. Finding quality actors and technicians is not a problem on this campus.”

The Drama Club is planning to present the popular musical Les Miserables during the spring academic quarter.

“A Flea in Her Ear”
Rose-Hulman Drama Club
Hatfield Hall Theater
Friday, January 30 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 31 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 7 – 7:30 p.m.

Adults - $15
Youths - $10

Purchase tickets by calling 812-877-8544