ACC gets ‘Shipwrecked!’

The Allen Community College Theatre's summer program tries something different with a professional guest actor joining forces to work with students. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the ACC Theatre. Admission is free. The play is hilarious.

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June 2, 2022 - 1:21 PM

Allen Community College Theatre presents “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)!” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the ACC Theatre. In front is Maxwell Kays, with Jazmin Havens and special guest Scott Cox, who is chair of the Theatre and Dance department at Benedictine College. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Lexie Vega remembers making mud pies as a child, letting her imagination guide her. She didn’t care about the messiness of life.

Now, when she watches her younger siblings play, she envies their ability to step into different worlds and create their own adventure.

Vega hopes to bring that spirit to the Allen Community College Theatre production of “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)!”

“Being able to come back to that place, and even just watching this performance, makes me so happy,” Vega said. “I think adults and children will have a lot of fun.”

Vega is co-directing the play with ACC Theatre Director Trevor Belt.

The family-friendly show is at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the ACC Theatre. Admission is free, and the adventure lasts about 90 minutes with no intermission.

It’s a hilarious story of one man’s search for adventure that takes him from the high seas to a deserted island in the Pacific, and then back to England where he finds fame and fortune by telling his story.

Maxwell Kays, from left, Scott Cox and Jazmin Havens aboard the ship, the Wonder World, in a scene from “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)!”Photo by Vickie Moss

“SHIPWRECKED!” is a bit of a departure from ACC’s typical summer theatre activities.

In the past, the college invited local youth to take part in a performance. Participation has waned in recent years, prompting Belt to try something different. 

This summer’s show is a more professional theatre experience. 

Belt invited a colleague, Scott Cox, who is an actor, writer, director and producer. Cox served as the guest director of ACC’s “The Thanksgiving Play” in November 2021.

Working with a professional actor gives ACC’s outgoing sophomores a chance to practice their skills in a workshop atmosphere. The cast and production team are being paid for their work, and the performance is made possible by the support of the Helen Gates Whitehead Trust.

Maxwell Kays, front, Scott Cox and Jazmin Havens aboard the ship, the Wonder World, in a scene from “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)!”Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

“We’re treating it more like a professional summer stock,” Belt said. 

“This is an opportunity to get firsthand experience with a professional actor at a quick pace. We have a good group of sophomores who are really gung-ho about it.”

That includes Vega, who will be attending Emporia State University next fall. She plans to become a speech and theatre teacher.

At first, she was intimidated by the thought of directing Cox. But it didn’t take long before they worked as a team.

Jazmin Havens as the sea captain pets her dog, Bruno, played by Maxwell Kays. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

“He’s taught me a lot,” she said. 

The cast includes two ACC students, Jazmin Havens of Pittsburg and Maxwell Kays of Bonsall, Calif.

Rachel Shaffer of Moran worked with the props — and there are a ton of them, used in creative ways to bolster the imagination. For example, mops are used to represent people. A ship is created using a couch and a ladder. Several side-splitting moments take place behind a lighted screen, with silhouettes. 

Scott Cox and Maxwell Kays as Queen Victoria.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

COX channels the histrionics of a Shakespearean tragic comedy in a delightfully exuberant performance as the title character, Louis de Rougemont. 

He grows up as a sickly lad in London, listening to his mother read stories of swashbuckling escapades. Soon, he sets off for parts unknown.

He encounters Havens, a daring sea captain with an affinity for pearls. It’s the first of several parts played by Havens, who perfectly counterbalances Cox’s energy with a passionate gravity. She especially shines while playing an Aboriginal Australian whose fate becomes intertwined with Cox’s character. 

Scott Cox listens to Jazmin Havens, playing his mother, as she reads a story about a swashbuckling adventure. Photo by Vickie Moss

Kays also takes on multiple roles that will have you howling with laughter — literally. He rarely speaks and spends most of his time on stage on all fours as a dog named Bruno. No spoilers, but let’s talk about Bruno: One favorite scene features Cox and Kays making beautiful music together as the two are stranded on a deserted island and lament their fate.

Vega and Belt achieve their goal in delivering a fun-filled adventure reminiscent of childhood. Though the play has a brief moment of seriousness toward the end, the journey is a joyous whirlwind that will keep you laughing from the start to a shockingly comical finish aboard a sea turtle. 

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