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The wrongs make a right for Evan Alexander Smith in The Play That Goes Wrong

The wrongs make a right for Evan Alexander Smith in The Play That Goes Wrong
Entertainment
If there is one distinct benefit to performing in something called The Play That Goes Wrong, it is that no one will ever know what’s scripted and what is an actual screw-up. It’s probably the best safety net a performer could ever ask for.

“Every night something really might go a little bit wrong, but the best thing is that the audience has no idea what the difference is between what’s supposed to go wrong and what’s actually going wrong,” explains Evan Alexander Smith, who stars in the production now running at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Evan Alexander Smith as Inspector Carter and Brandon J. Ellis as lighting operator Trevor in The Play That Goes Wrong.  (JEREMY DANIEL)

“In a play like this, where there is so much going on, from the physicality to the set, there are little things that go wrong every night, but nothing major. But certainly there are times when actors are looking each other in the eye as we are figuring out what to do next to fix the little thing that’s happening stage left.”

Smith was born and raised in Mississauga, studied theatre at George Brown College and worked here for years. He decamped to New York for theatrical work in 2013. He is extremely happy to be back home as part of the touring production of this play-within-a-play where everything that could go wrong absolutely does with hilarious results.

Smith plays Chris, the director of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, which is putting on a production of The Murder at Haversham Manor, in which he also takes on the role of Inspector Carter.

Since The Play That Goes Wrong debuted in London in 2012, it has gone on to be a smash hit on London’s West End and Broadway, and Smith thinks that’s because it delivers on exactly what it sets out to do.

“I like that it’s two hours of comedy that asks nothing of the audience, except that they sit back, relax and have a good time,” says Smith. “There is no deep message. There are some incredible plays that I love, but they make you think about things, and sometimes that’s great and sometimes I just want to go to the theatre and forget about everything and laugh. And this is that show. There’s no politics, we’re not hitting anybody over the head with anything, it’s not like taking your medicine. It demands nothing. It really is just a good time.”

Well, actually, they are hitting some people over the head — or at least seem too — but it’s just the actors onstage, who are part of all kinds of slapstick moments and have to do all kinds of physical comedy that, while all in fun, definitely takes a toll on the performers.

“I remember when I was cast, I went and saw that show again, and I thought, ‘Oh, I get off easy when it comes to the physical stuff. It’s not so bad,’ and then we got to rehearsals and everything hurt every day. For the entire cast, it’s a two-hour workout,” he says.

“I think we came to a place in rehearsals where we were trying to learn how to do things safely and quickly, and now that we are comfortable with everything we’re starting to have a lot of fun with how much can we push this physical moment, or how much more dangerous can we make this look. You know, finding little ways to milk things.”

The Tony Award-winning stage design is also a huge part of the show, constantly falling apart. There are moments when the audience gasps when it looks like something really hit a performer.

“There are times when I look out and I see someone with their hands over their face,” Smith says. “It’s funny, we’ve been through so many rehearsals that we are kind of desensitized or detached to how scary it can look, but is fun to see the audience react in that way.”

Smith says he’s been extremely lucky during his professional career in that he doesn’t have too many real “wrong” moments, but one sticks out from the last time he was onstage in this city. In 2009 , he had the starring role in The Toxic Avenger, with Louise Pitre.

“There was this turntable onstage and I remember one time, there’s a scene where I beat up two bullies and part of that is I take somebody’s intestines out of their stomach, and the intestines got caught in the turntable, so it couldn’t move and none of the rest of show could go on until we got these intestines out of the turntable,” he says with a laugh.
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