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Getting Smart ...and loving it

Get Smart
Julian Weeks as Maxwell Smart in the Adamson Theatre Company’s production of 'Get Smart'

Intelligence sources indicate Wesley students recently ensured the triumph of good over evil. This exclusive debrief by Agent 99, aka Emily McBurney, and The Chief, aka Dashiell Stephenson. Top secret: for your eyes only.

‘Would you believe that seven police boats are closing in on us right now?’ Maxwell Smart asks the unbelieving head of KAOS who now holds him captive. A beat, then the straight-faced Smart continues, ‘Would you believe six?’ With that question, Get Smart is off to a flying – or should that be a bumbling? – start.

Middle School students at Wesley’s St Kilda Road Campus had the time of their young lives, onstage and backstage, as they ensured the triumph of good over evil in the Adamson Theatre Company’s production of dramatist Christopher Sergel’s hilarious stage adaptation of the famous 1960s comedy television series Get Smart.

Organised KAOS or complete CONTROL?

Essentially a parody of the American TV series created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry that itself parodied the popular secret agent genre of the 1960s, the play sees the agents of CONTROL – Maxwell ‘Max’ Smart, or Agent 86, Agent 99 and the Chief – pitted against the forces of KAOS, which seek to blow up the Statue of Liberty. It’s escapist entertainment beloved by all ages, and for all time.

Get Smart delivers a complete laugh-out-loud experience for audiences. Our large cast of young, talented students thoroughly enjoyed acquainting themselves with this classic comic genre. Many, many students embraced the challenge of auditioning, the weekly rehearsals, the technical and dress rehearsals, and finally the performances in Adamson Hall. Every hard-working member of this production devoted much effort over many weeks, with students, staff and parents all invested, and – to borrow one of the TV show’s popular catchphrases – loving it.

The success of Sergel’s stage adaptation is highly dependent on timing, nuance and tone, and audiences responded to the nonsensical plot twists and clever dialogue with laughter and enthusiasm. Cast members were clearly having fun as they performed, while crew members enjoyed watching from the wings. Both cast and crew took delight in transporting the audience back to the 1960s to deliver a comedy that many in the audience enjoyed nostalgically and others a little younger found intriguing as they encountered the – admittedly spoofed – world of espionage, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Special thanks must go to our directors, Cherie Hozynka and Peter Russell, and producers, Marcus Pinnell and Ryan Murphy, for the support, advice and encouragement they provided to all involved in the production.

Loving learning

Learning lines, rehearsing, nailing crucial stage business and devising plenty of visual surprises – what can’t you do with a locker? – cleverly designed by Sergel and finally taking the play before our audiences has been a rollercoaster journey: challenging, exciting and nerve-racking, but ultimately hugely enjoyable.

In a storyline where Max proceeds from one gigantic blunder to another, only to find each mistake somehow turns into a master stroke, Get Smart was the perfect production for the talented cast and crew from the St Kilda Road Middle School: a case of, ‘Good thinking, 99.’ Under the ‘cover’ of bumbling ineptitude, our slick production was a great opportunity to learn and grow. We are so lucky to have such wonderful learning opportunities at Wesley: for us, Get Smart really was a case of getting smart.

Emily McBurney is a Year 9 student at the St Kilda Road Campus. She played Agent 99 in the Adamson Theatre Company’s production of Get Smart . Dashiell Stephenson is a Year 9 student at the St Kilda Road Campus. He played The Chief.