PAYSON — Charley’s Aunt is a three-act comedy set in 1892 at Oxford University. Jack and Charley are college graduates in love with two girls they just met the night before on the dance floor, Kitty and Amy. They want to invite the girls over to have lunch and profess their love, but because of social customs of the time, they need a chaperone. Luckily, Charley’s Aunt, Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez, is on her way to visit! So the boys enlist the help of their friend “Babbs” to distract Donna Lucia during the lunch. However, their plan is “confounded” when a delayed aunt, a father newly in debt, an old love, a crotchety guardian, and a pressing, cross-dressing theatre performance get in their way. With this lively cast of 10 hilarious characters, Payson Community Theatre’s production of Charley’s Aunt sparkles on stage, especially when all the characters appear together.

I praise director Tanya Roundy’s use of space and dimension on the small stage at Payson Junior High School. Perry Ewell’s set design is brilliantly crafted for so many characters in such a small space. Ewell’s use of paneled walls allowed for clear set changes across acts whilst maintaining an efficient use of the limited set. Jenna Wakley’s detailed props accentuated the time period and made the set feel real. Put together, the set and props bolster this ever-engaging show, and Roundy’s direction includes many small humorous moments sneakily tucked in the background.

Roundy utilizes the actors’ natural talents for physical comedy throughout the production, creating delightful moments of confusion for characters onstage and laughter for the audience. While it’s clear that Roundy’s focus is on the physical element as the commitment to English accents varies across the cast, her great directing comes into focus in the side-splitting tableaus at the end of each act.

Show closes March 30

Nic Anderson steals the stage with his cartoonish portrayal of Lord Fancourt Babberley “Babbs.” His physical comedy had me and many in the audience in stitches as he gracefully pranced around stage and dramatically dropped to the floor. Anderson is a highlight of this production.

William Wood, (Jack Chesney), delivers a consistently energetic performance. His comedic timing shines through when he takes his time delivering funny monologues at the beginning. When paired with his love, the coy Kitty Verdun played by the confident Hannah Remund, the chemistry between them makes for enthralling courting and comedy.

Jerry Black as the shy Charles “Charley” Wykeham brings a timid charm to his character. While this characterization sometimes causes his lines to fall flat, he comes alive in group settings, especially with Wood and Anderson. Additionally, Emma Black, conveniently Jerry Blacks’s wife, plays a grounded Amy Spettigue, Charley’s true love. Emma Black’s comfortable presence onstage really assists Jerry’s performance.

Like other cast members, Marc Owens as Colonel Sir Francis Chesney takes a little bit to warm up onstage. However, by the end of the show, he settles into the comedic rhythm of the script. This is also true of Benjamin Wear as Stephen Spettigue. Whether it was just opening night jitters or the need to warm up, Wear takes a couple of lines to find his footing as Spettigue. Either way, both Owens and Wear earned big laughs from the audience by act three. 

Mary Hansen plays a graceful, powerful, and self-assured Donna Lucia d’Alvadorez. Her proper Portuguese pronunciation of the character’s name is a nice detail that purposefully distinguishes her from the others. While not onstage for long, Kristen Kelly as Ela Delahey is another highlight of this production. Kelly embodies the sweet nature of her character that makes her magnetic to watch.

In addition to the cast’s consistently playful and practical pieces, costumers Miranda Mobbs deliver wonderful female costumes — Kelly and Hansen’s costumes were particularly dazzling. Hair and makeup by Julie Hancock also stands out as the wigs and hairpieces smartly and beautifully balanced the time period and the comedic nature of the script.

Whitney Dawe as the oft-belittled butleress Brassett is a splendid friend to the audience. Her humorous and poised monologues help explain the wild confusion that accompanies this particular group of wealthy Brits to the modern theater patron. And her character exemplifies the witty, classical comedy of errors that is Charley’s Aunt.

Comedy can be a challenging genre to perform. While there were some jokes that didn’t land, the production is overall highly enjoyable. Additionally, the performances aren’t entirely to blame. The script itself is long (over 2 hours, including intermission) and can be slightly repetitive. While the script has been adapted from the original 1892 version multiple times, there are still some scenes that could be shortened or cut altogether. 

If you’re looking for a witty, family-friendly comedy, then I recommend hilarious Payson Community Theatre’s production of Charley’s Aunt — “Where the nuts come from!”

The Payson Community Theatre production of Chaley’s Aunt plays March 22, 23, 25, 29 and 30 at 7:30 PM at Payson Junior High (1025 UT-198 Payson, Utah). Tickets are $10-12. For more information, visit