“Shipwrecked! An entertainment, the amazing adventures of Louis de Rougemont,” is likely to leave the audience guessing.
The show follows the reported exploits of the Swiss explorer, whose real name was Henri Louis Grin. He began writing about adventures in Australia in a British magazine in 1898. Earl Campbell plays Louis de Rougemont in the Carmel Community Players’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” in presentation Aug. 12 through 21 at The Cat, 254 Veterans Way, Carmel.
“It’s based on the true story of a man who was a con artist,” Campbell said. “He created a story where he had gone on all these fantastic adventures. He became a Victorian sensation and his story was then revealed, but then backed up by people who said an octopus could be so big you could ride a sea turtle.
Carmel resident Vickie Phipps, who plays several roles, said the show raises some questions.
“It makes you think about how we idolize actors or famous people and love to tear them down,” Phipps said. “You leave wondering, did it happen to him, or did he make it up? Are we fools to believe him? Or do we appreciate a fun story?”
Campbell said it’s a physical role with a lot of movement, so he’s 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 waited two years to portray the character. The show was originally set for summer 2020, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The show is directed by KKP board president Lori Raffel.
“I’ve worked with Lori a few times,” Campbell said. “Lori asked me if I would be interested in auditioning. I looked at (the role) and it scared me because it was so big. The reason I got it is for its challenge. When you put yourself out there, it makes you feel more alive.”
The show has long been a favorite of Raffel’s.
“Even though it’s a Donald Marguiles piece, a lot of people haven’t heard of the show, but we did it at the Phoenix (Theater) when I was there about 10 years ago and it holds a place in my heart,” she said. “Bryan Fonseca directed, and Chuck Goade played. I made a sound. I volunteered to be the house manager for the whole show (four weekends, 20 shows) so I could see every single show.”
Carmel resident Phipps was added to the show when a cast member had to drop out of school 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 am doing many such roles. I’ve probably played two characters, but nothing like this. I thought this would be a fun challenge for me. I studied them by person, not by 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 chairman of the CCP board.
Joe Aiello, who was also slated to be on the show in 2020, plays several characters, including Bruno the dog for half the show and Queen Victoria and a magazine publisher.
“That hurts,” Aiello said while on his knees playing the dog. “But I have knees, so this is a big help.”
At the same time, Aiello is also rehearsing for a musical, “Hands on a Hardbody,” at Mud Creek Players, which opens 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 much fun and just so 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.