The Play That Goes Wrong

By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields

Welcome to opening night of the Cornley University Drama Society’s newest production, The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. This 1920s whodunit has everything you never wanted in a show—an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines). Nevertheless, the accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences! Part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, this Olivier Award–winning comedy is a global phenomenon that’s guaranteed to leave the audience aching with laughter!

Produced by Evansville Community Theatre at Evansville High School Performing Arts Center,

Performances: July 14-22, 2023

Performance Times:
Friday, July 14 at 7pm
Saturday, July 15 at 7pm
Sunday, July 16 at 2pm
Friday, July 21 at 7pm
Saturday, July 22 at 2pm

Ticket Prices: TBA

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Auditions will be held on the following days:

May 20 – 10a to 2p
May 21 – 12p to 3p
May 23 – 6p to 9p

Auditions will be held at John M Evans Hall, 104 W Main Street, Evansville, WI in the ECT space located on the second floor.


While this is not required, it is highly encouraged. Please use the link below to sign up for your audition time:


Auditions May 20, 21 and 23

First Read Thru May 30

Tech starts July 2
Dress starts July 10

Show Dates:
Friday, July 14 at 7pm
Saturday, July 15 at 7pm
Sunday, July 16 at 2pm
Friday, July 21 at 7pm
Saturday, July 22 at 2pm
Sunday, July 23 – STRIKE and Cast Party

The rehearsal schedule is not firmly set. Anticipate rehearsals to be 3-4 days per week depending on cast availability. The rehearsal window is short. This is a very technical show with a lot of moving parts. Availability is key to a successful production. Tentative rehearsal schedule will be available at auditions.


All actors must be comfortable with staged, controlled physical “abuse”. (i.e. being stepped on, sat on, hit, slapped, falling down, etc.) These elements will be safe and rehearsed to obtain the desired, most realistic effect
Actors may be asked to alter their appearance (i.e. cut/change hair or facial hair, cover tattoos and remove piercings, swap faces with John Travolta, etc.)
Backstage tech crew may make appearances onstage occasionally
Max, Chris, Robert, and Sandra must perform spit takes
Jonathan is spit on by Max during one of the spit takes and also has powder dropped in his face
Dennis has water thrown in his face
Robert, Dennis, Chris, and Jonathan must be comfortable with heights as they must perform on the second floor platform
Robert climbs to, Chris jumps from, and Jonathan falls from the second floor platform
A comical stage kiss is shared between Max & Sandra and Max & Trevor
Sandra must be dragged and lifted by other actors while appearing unconscious
Sandra performs Act II in only her underwear (camisole and bikini briefs)
Robert and Max must perform some light fencing
There are two main accents utilized in this show: American and Received Pronunciation, or RP for short, the instantly recognizable accent often described as “typically British” (One character must also use a cockney accent in addition to the RP accent)


As with any play-within-a-play, you have the complication of the characters of the actors doing the play-within-a-play and the characters within the play-within-a-play. To make it a little simpler, the names are laid out below in two lists: firstly the members of the Cornley Drama Society who are putting on the play, and secondly the characters of The Murder at Haversham Manor. The script always uses the actors’ names rather than the characters’ names. The challenge for those cast in The Play That Goes Wrong will be to develop the actor’s character based on how they portray the play-within-a-play’s character.

Members of the Cornley Drama Society (in order of appearance):

ANNIE, the company’s stage manager. American accent. Annie has a strong technical background but is shy onstage. This changes gradually and drastically as she is forced into certain situations throughout the play.

STAGE CREW, the Cornley Drama Society’s stage crew.

TREVOR, the company’s lighting and sound director. American accent. Trevor is only working with the drama society for a course credit and is often easily distracted. He is also thrown into the onstage mayhem later in the play.

CHRIS, the head of the drama society and director of the play-within-a-play. RP accent. Also plays Inspector Carter. A typically perceived “community theatre director”, Chris often knows what should be going on despite the fact that he may not have communicated it effectively to his cast and crew. Gets visibly frustrated and tries to correct things while performing in the play-within-a-play.

JONATHAN, plays Charles Haversham. RP accent. Although he spends most of the play “dead”, he is placed in situations where he must physically adjust his performance to accommodate for the mistakes of others (and of his own). He is also a key component of the play-within-a-play’s epic conclusion.

ROBERT, plays Thomas Colleymore. RP accent. Robert has a booming stage presence and is concerned with performing his role perfectly while also rolling with the punches and doing his best to compensate for the play-within-a-play’s mishaps.

DENNIS, plays Perkins. Submissive RP accent. Dennis is a very “green” actor who often writes difficult words on his hand and has trouble recovering from the unexpected. He is also very concerned with how the audience reacts to him.

MAX, plays Cecil Haversham and Arthur the Gardener. RP and cockney accents. Max is a true “ham” and thrives off of the audience’s response to his overacting. In spite of his overabundance of confidence, he is typically unwilling to go “all the way” in his romantic scenes with Sandra.

SANDRA, plays Florence Colleymoore. RP accent. Sandra is the ego-driven leading lady whose actions are exaggerated and whose instincts often miss the mark. She is very protective of her role in the play-within-a-play as well as her role in the drama society as the best (that they can get) female performer.

Characters in The Murder at Haversham Manor (in order of appearance):

CHARLES HAVERSHAM, the deceased.
THOMAS COLLEYMOORE, Charles’ old school friend
PERKINS, Charles’ butler
CECIL HAVERSHAM, Charles’ brother.
FLORENCE COLLEYMOORE, Charles’ fiancée and Thomas’ sister
INSPECTOR CARTER, an esteemed local inspector
ARTHUR THE GARDENER, the gardener at Haversham Manor


Prepare an embarrassing story (it does not need to have happened to you, but please present it as if it did) of at least 30 seconds, but no longer than 2 mins.
A story-based joke (clean or dirty). “Story-based” means that there should be elements of storytelling, development and setup to the joke, as opposed to, for instance, a knock-knock joke.
Review the audition monologues listed below and be prepared to present as directed
Review the sides listed at
Bring a list of calendar conflicts to your audition


In addition to above, there will be various cold readings from the script and other source material
Various Improv exercises
You may be asked to demonstrate physical “flexibility” (think along the lines of pratfall)


Be prepared to move throughout the entire audition. No need for a traditional audition outfit, sweatpants and sneakers are encouraged.

Please contact Melissa Schnepper using the page with any questions