Donohoe Adapts Film for Spring Production


Annette Ungermann, Staff Writer

Let it Ride, a Campolindo Drama Department production, premiered on Thursday, April 27-29. The play was performed as blackbox-style theater, in which the audience was onstage with the actors.

The play is an adaption of the 1989 movie of the same name. Never before has this play been adapted for the stage. Drama teacher Jamie Donohoe adapted the movie specifically for Drama’s annual spring production.

“I had watched the film and transcribed it over the summer, then I found an old screenplay. It was an early draft of the script screenplay, which actually had some additional scenes in it of dialogue. I used some of that, then over the rehearsal process, we incorporated lines that actors either wrote or ad-libbed on stage,” said Donohoe.

Gambler Jay Trotter, played by senior Grady Eglin, has unusually good luck at the racetrack. Trotter wins big with each bet he places after receiving hints to bet on particular horses. Trotter’s betting quickly attracts attention from fellow betters at the race track, at first jealous of his massive earnings, and then all rallying to support his unusually good luck.

The play is set in a variety of locations: the racetrack itself, the jockey club, the bar near the racetrack, the ticket window, and Trotter’s own home. Each location has unique characters that look on during Trotter’s unusually good day, offering comic relief.

“I’ve seen the film a bunch of times and I keep coming back to it, and the characters are really fun, there’s just so many characters that have just limited screen time, but are memorable. And I just saw the ability- there needed to be some more fleshing out of the characters, which I was excited about,” Donohoe added. “We added scenes to just flesh out the characters. And I knew that if you could get those people , those characters in front of a live audience, that the audience would fall in love with those characters in a way that you can’t on film, where you’re passively watching.”

Junior Fiona Deane-Grundman played Evangeline, a very straight-laced Christian woman experiencing her first time at the horse races. “In Marty’s, which is the bar, we have me, and then we have Sid, who’s this nerd guy who’s really awkward, and then we have Marty, who runs the bar, and then there’s Looney, who’s Trotter’s best friend, and Vibes, who’s just this very eccentric character,” said Deane-Grundman. “And I think that we just played off of each other’s energies. We would play off of each other’s characters to kind of make it as weird and out-there as we could, our section.”

Many of the cast members were allowed to contributed to the development of their characters.  “I thought, oh, wouldn’t it be funny if she just completely goes off the deep end when she is exposed to just a tiny bit of the gambling lifestyle? And then I kind of just went with that idea. I think [Donohoe] really helped with that development,” said Deane-Grundman. “We had a lot of ability to kind of go with our character, and change it as we wanted to, or develop it as much as we wanted to, so it was less stuck in that same box that it was in the movie.”

Choir member Jenna Sposato was also involved in bringing the play to life. “Jenna, she’s one of my English students, and we’re doing this thing called the Challenge Project- where kids push themselves in a variety of ways, it’s a whole different thing,” said Donohoe. “She’d sung in class, and I was just like, ‘That needs to go in the play.’ It was perfect for this. We had already had music set for this moment, which would’ve worked, but Jenna’s song was way better.”

“[Jenna’s song] had just been put in only a week before we actually went to stage. And it was cool because it gave like a sort of a modern twist sort of thing, because it was an original song, and it also really connected with the scene and the storyline,” said junior Makenna Wolff, who played Jay’s wife, Pam. “I was welcoming of it.”

“It was fun. It was very different, because I’ve never actually played a character like Pam. I’m normally more the sort of comedic actor, I don’t really play people that are very emotionally complicated. I normally play the very stagnant sort of people. They don’t change very much, they’re just there for comedic relief. It was cool to play someone like no one I’ve ever played before,” said Wolff.

“We talk about Let it Ride 2: the sequel- he’s lost everything, and they’ve divorced each other, because that’s what you expect. It’s actually a typical Greek comedy, in that he starts out at a low point, and just rises and ends happily,” said Donohoe. “That kind of comedy, we’re not used to that. We like tragedies more than comedies, I think.”

“Initially, I was hesitant about [Let it Ride], because it’s so different, and we’ve never adapted a movie to the stage, and we haven’t really done something like this before. But I though that it was really cool. It was almost like devised theatre, where you kind of make it all up as you go along. And I was glad to be a part of it,” said Deane-Grundman.