Players turn ‘Bottoms Up’

Published 4:55 am Friday, November 12, 2010

Staff Writer

BELHAVEN — Take a young, wide-eyed aerobics instructor and toss her onto a Third World Caribbean island with gangsters, a Bob Hope-ish chemistry teacher and a producer of dirty movies and you’ve got “Bottoms Up.”
The Way Off Broadway Players will turn out this tribute to comic mayhem at 8 p.m. Nov. 18-20 in The Theatre at the former Sears building on Pamlico Street.
Admission is $10 a person. To make reservations, call 252-943-3796.
“Bottoms Up,” authored by Gregg Kreutz, traces the misfortunes of hapless American aerobics instructor June Sherwood as she tries to start an exercise program in a seedy island hotel.
Sherwood, played by LeAnna Holmes, innocently fumbles her way through an organized-crime plot foiled by interference from the hotel’s thieving porter, a sleazy purveyor of adult films and other miscreants.
Despite the obstacles noisily tossed in her path, Sherwood, the conscience of the play, ultimately triumphs by leading her antagonists in a round of infomercial-style exercises.
The cast started rehearsing on Labor Day and, since then, has continued running lines and sorting out stage movement twice a week, related director George Wahab.
“This is a smart group — really smart,” Wahab commented. “And they’re all experienced, they’ve all been in plays, and some of them have been in a lot of plays.”
Asked to reveal the challenges of crafting her character, Holmes said her first goal is to support her fellow actors.
“I need to make sure I have my part down,” she added.
Mary Ellen Wahab portrays Señora Valdez, matron of the run-down hotel where the action unfolds.
“We found that our audience likes a play that has a lot of rapid movement,” she said. “They like sophisticated word usage, but they also like a lot of movement.”
The other cast members are Zach Stevens (the porter), Dean Armstrong (Smith), Hannah Byrd (Tony Scopec), Mandy Robbins (Victoria), Aaron Stevens (George Rushmore), Hollis Brooks (Keith) and Lloyd Ballance (Raymond Pumphrey).
The crew consists of director Wahab, prompter Maggie Anderson and lighting technician Kate Anderson.