Photo of inD Theatre's "Hay Fever" ~ Preview by Michael C. Moore

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – As furniture and props were schlepped from the rental truck to the innards of the Rolling Bay Hall performance space for inD Theatre’s production of Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever,” Molly Hall and her daughter, Sadie Gingold, reflected on all the “what-ifs” they’d gone through to get there.

“It was like, ‘What if we did this?’” said Hall, who is both the comedy’s lead actress and its production manager, “and it just kept going. One thing would happen, and then we’d start thinking, “Well, then, what if we did this next …’”

Like many community theater productions, especially under the lingering coronavirus clouds, “Hay Fever” has been a long time in the making. What’s different about it is the way it came to pass – like a seed that built its own garden around itself.

Molly Hall as Judith Bliss. Courtesy of inD Theatre/Adam Othman.

“We thought, ‘We have to do this,’” said Hall, who added that she’s loved “Hay Fever” since she was a collegian. She found similar enthusiasm when she introduced it to Sadie, a recent high school graduate bound this fall for the Sargent Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in Missouri.

“I’d always wanted to (play Judith Bliss), since I saw Elizabeth Huddle play her at Intiman Theatre,” Molly said. “When I gave it to Sadie to read, she said, ‘We’re going to do this, as soon as I age into it.’”

"It became my life-long dream show,” Sadie said. “I thought it was the funniest play I’d ever read.”

It wasn’t much of a hike to find an actor to play David Bliss opposite Molly’s Judith. Like, they didn’t even have to leave the house. Jason Gingold – Molly’s husband and Sadie’s dad –was just waiting for his invitation.

“If it’s a Molly thing, I’m always interested,” said Gingold, who’s familiar – as is Hall – to Kitsap theater cognoscenti from distinguished work both at Bainbridge Performing Arts and with the Mountaineers Players at Kitsap Forest Theater. “I never miss a chance to work with her.”

Also, since the rehearsals eventually shifted from online to the living room of Casa Gingold, he really didn’t have much choice. Jason, Molly and Sadie all played significant roles in BPA’s 2019 holiday production of “Matilda, the Musical” – the last mainstage show there prior to the pandemic shutdown. That show was directed by Ken Michels, who became involved with the “Hay Fever” project and eventually was “what-iffed” into the director’s chair.

Molly Hall as Judith Bliss and Sadie Gingold as Sorel Bliss. Image c/o inD Theatre/Adam Othman.

Michels’ absorption into things was key in two ways. First, he was on board with the idea of getting “Hay Fever” to a stage somewhere – anywhere – where his flair for physical comedy could add a whole ‘nother dimension to Coward’s scathingly funny wordplay.

Second, he’d worked before with the folks at inD Theatre – co-directors Tom Challinor and Matt Eldridge -- directing their spring 2019 production of “A Walk in the Woods” at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

“I went to them with this family oriented dream show,” Michels said, “and it appealed to them. It seemed like a good fit.”

That gave the production the last major thing it lacked – a home. And the snug confines of Rolling Bay Hall seem to suit things to a T – or, perhaps more appropriately, a tea.

“Audiences are going to feel like they’re in these people’s living room,” Molly said. The living room in question is in the 1920s Thames-side country home of the Bliss family – a quartet of bohemian eccentrics comprising novelist father David, actor Judith, and their progeny, Sorel (Sadie Gingold) and Simon (Seamus C. Smith).

Each Bliss has invited a guest (played by Seattle-based actors Christopher Clark, Colleen Gillon, Christopher Puckett and Karin Terry) for the weekend, but the visitors are quickly driven off by the family’s self-centered behavior – a general lack of bliss at the Blisses’.

Cindy Giese French rounds out the cast as Clara, the no doubt long-suffering housekeeper. (And, if you’re keeping score, award a “4” to the Gingolds, as son Charlie is also on hand, assisting stage manager (and inD veteran) Maddy Garfunkel.)

Michels doubles as set designer, with costumes by Dawn Janow and lighting by Erik Lawrence.

Who: inD Theatre
What
: “Hay Fever,” comedy by Noel Coward
Where
: Rolling Bay Hall, 10598 NE Valley Road., Bainbridge Island
When
: July 15-31; 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays
Tickets
: Reservations | inD Theatre
Social Media
: Facebook, Instagram

Photo of Michael C. Moore

About the Author

Michael C. Moore is a career journalist, with more than 43 years experience working at daily newspapers around the Puget Sound area – including more than 14 years covering the Kitsap County arts and entertainment scene for the Kitsap Sun. Most recently, he’s been a COVID-19 liaison and public health educator for the Kitsap Public Health District.

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