Members of the “Happy Birthday, Dear Grandpa” cast rehearse a scene from the upcoming Chatfield Drama Club’s fall production. From left are Demery Little, Liz Hisey, Matt Dietz, Kallie Kohlmeyer and Derek Bethel. The play will be presented at Potter Auditorium this Sunday. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Members of the “Happy Birthday, Dear Grandpa” cast rehearse a scene from the upcoming Chatfield Drama Club’s fall production. From left are Demery Little, Liz Hisey, Matt Dietz, Kallie Kohlmeyer and Derek Bethel. The play will be presented at Potter Auditorium this Sunday. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
It's Grandpa...on an even keel into his cake.

The Chatfield Drama Club students are preparing for their upcoming fall play, "Happy Birthday, Dear Grandpa," which will be presented this Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. at Potter Auditorium.

"It's about a cantankerous grandfather, ill-tempered and paranoid, who is determined to think that his grandkids, three young adult siblings, are trying to kill him for their inheritance - $642 and a postcard collection," related director Tony Cole.

"Grandpa doesn't mind shouting it down the halls of his apartment building to alert whatever neighbors he can," Cole continued. "So when Grandpa suddenly slumps forward, face down in the birthday cake at his surprise party, the grandkids realize it looks like murder and they're the suspects. What follows is a fast-paced series of charades, plot twists, off-beat humor and one-liners, to make this the funniest, sunniest surprise party ever."

The cast of the play includes Demery Little, Liz Hisey, Matt Dietz, Nick Buenger, Derek Bethel, Kallie Kohlmeyer, assistant director Gabby Bouska, Marissa Hanson and stage manager Celene Arellano.

Cole chose the play because he called it "fun, just plain fun," plus, there were chances for his students to stretch their stage skills.

He related, "The students had to portray characters of multiple generations, and young people's portrayal of us 'older folks' is very, very entertaining."

The play, set in a 1970s-era New York City apartment, challenges the actors and actresses because, Cole said, "it makes them think on their feet to come up with a 'story' to satisfy Detective Stacy Macy."

The show also offers an opportunity for the students to engage in lots of theater acting games and timing exercises and they are learning some of the nuisances and nuances of life in the 1970s.

Cole is working on cultivating new talent this school year, given that quite a few of his veteran thespians graduated last spring.

He's spent the past five weeks witnessing how the students take on portraying their characters.

"They are developing nicely into talented thespians and wonderful public speakers, simply just a great group of young people that make me proud," he said.

Cole promised an absolutely kid- and family-friendly show, predicting that audiences will enjoy "the use of the words 'hot dish' and, of course, Grandpa himself."

"Happy Birthday, Dear Grandpa" will be presented at Potter Auditorium on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. and tickets are $5 per person - all proceeds benefit the Chatfield High School theater arts program.