Wilson theater embraces change, ends Shakespeare tradition with ‘Any Number Can Die’


Photo by Pia Doran

Annette Leber and Ruby Mason

Usually, around this time of year, Wilson actors are practicing their to-be-or-not-to-bes in preparation for auditions for the annual spring Shakespeare play. But not this year. If you walk into the Black Box, you’re more likely to see actors telling jokes and playing tag. This is all part of the process of rehearsing for the newest play from Wilson theater: a murder mystery comedy, “Any Number Can Die.”

Performing Arts teacher and director Dan Iwaniec explained that he chose to switch things up because he wanted new actors to be able to try acting without the pressure of being in a work of Shakespeare. He also wanted to put on a comedy. According to Iwaniec, Wilson theater has never put on a spring play that was pure comedy with no other intentions or hidden lessons. “Any Number Can Die” is simply a fun and funky show, nothing else.

In “Any Number Can Die,” a billionaire who lived by himself on a private island dies and his remaining family and their guests gather in his Disney-haunted-mansion-esque home to hear the reading of his will. When it was still unclear after reading the will who the money was left to and the body count starts to rise, the characters have to solve the mystery of who the killer is before they themselves are killed.

The cast of “Any Number Can Die” consists of seven freshmen, one sophomore, three juniors, and one senior. “I was really excited to be able to work with a great cast and be a part of a really really great play,” said freshman Clara Petry, who plays Judy, a woman on her honeymoon. Similarly, freshman Robin Handley, who plays TJ, the penniless playboy, also expressed his enthusiasm about the play. “I was super happy! It was so great. It’s an exciting opportunity to gain experience!” he said.

In order to learn more about comedic timing and how comedy is going to be incorporated into the show, Iwaniec hosted a workshop a few days before the audition. There, he demonstrated points about how to be a good comedic actor and started introducing everyone to the characters and their physicalities.

“We started auditions with getting people warmed up—see how they work with each other and how they take directions and introduced them to the characters… then we asked them to do a scene with somebody else,” Iwaniec explained. “I asked them to tell me a joke, [which] helps with getting to see [their] personality.” Auditions and callbacks lasted three days, with the cast list posted after the final cut of auditions.

“Any Number Can Die” is a show full of mystery with a “roll on the floor laughing while spitting water at your friend” bonus, according to Iwaniec. “It seems like it’s going to be a really interesting show to watch,” said freshman Sam Wood, who plays Hannibal, the detective of the mystery. This “kooky, spooky, and hilarious” performance will be a play like no other, so make sure you see it on March 8, 9, 15, and 16 in the Black Box!