“Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, the Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont,” will likely leave audiences guessing.
The show follows the reported exploits of Swiss explorer, whose real name was Henri Louis Grin. He began writing about the adventures in Australia in a British periodical in 1898. Earl Campbell plays Louis de Rougemont in Carmel Community Players’ “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” in the Aug. 12 to 21 presentation at The Cat, 254 Veterans Way, Carmel.
“It’s based on the true story of a man, who was an imposter,” Campbell said. “He created a story where he had gone to all these fantastical adventures. He became a Victorian sensation, and his story was then debunked, but then in turn was supported by people who said an octopus can be this big and you can ride a sea turtle.”
Carmel resident Vickie Phipps, who plays several roles, said the play raises some questions.
“It gets you thinking how we idolize our actors or famous people, and we love to tear them down,” Phipps said. “You walk away wondering, did it happen to him, or did he make it up? Are we fools for believing him? Or do we just appreciate a fun story?”
Campbell said it’s a physical role with a lot of movement, so he has had to work on his stamina. Campbell said he started memorizing lines in early June.
“I’ve been in productions where I’ve been on stage the whole time,” he said. “I’ve never had the demands of this kind of role.”
Campbell, a Noblesville resident, has been waiting two years to portray the character. The show was originally set for the summer of 2020 but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The play is directed by CCP board president Lori Raffel.
“I’ve worked with Lori several times,” Campbell said. “Lori asked if I would be interested in auditioning. I looked at (the role) and it scared me because it was so big. The reason I took it is for the challenge of it. When you put yourself out there, it makes you feel more alive.”
The play has long been one of Raffel’s favorites.
“Even though it’s a Donald Marguiles piece, many people haven’t heard of the show, but we did it at the Phoenix (Theatre) when I was there about 10 years ago and it holds a place in my heart,” she said. “Bryan Fonseca directed, and Chuck Goade starred. I did sound. I volunteered to be house manager for the entire run (four weekends, 20 shows), so that I could watch every single performance.”
Carmel resident Phipps was added to the show when a cast member had to drop out when rehearsals began.
“I’m trying to catch up,” said Phipps, who plays eight different roles. “It’s a lot because there are so many different characters and accents. This is the first time I’ve done multiple roles like this. I’ve probably played two characters but nothing like this. I thought this would be a fun challenge for me. I’ve been studying them per person, not per scene.”
Among the characters she plays are Louis’ mother and a drunken male ship captain. This is her 37th show with CCP. Her husband, Rich, is vice president of the CCP board.
Joe Aiello, who also was slated to be in the show in 2020, plays several characters, including Bruno, the dog, for half the show, and Queen Victoria and a magazine publisher.
“It hurts,” Aiello said of being on his knees playing the dog. “But I have kneepads, so that’s a big help.”
At the same time, Aiello also is rehearsing for a musical, “Hands on a Hardbody,” at Mud Creek Players, which starts Sept. 9. Aiello, a Lawrence resident, said the directors are working with him on rehearsing both shows at the same time.
“I love working with Lori,” Aiello said. “This group of people are so fun and just very easy-going. We have fun together. Everyone has good ideas and Lori is very open to suggestions.”
The ensemble includes Hannah Janowicz, Noblesville; Tom Smith, Westfield; Margot Everitt, Indianapolis; and Jayda Glynn, Carmel.
For more, visit carmelplayers.org.