A full dress rehearsal for Mask and Wig’s fall show “No Country for Old Penn” took place on Tuesday night.

Credit: Helen Fetaw

Inside the Iron Gate Theatre, there is a sign that reads “Smokey Joe’s,” but this is no bar. Loud commands echo from all over the theatre and cast members run to their positions. The stage lights are cued, revealing a Western frontier set and the members of the Mask and Wig Club standing in their trademark dresses and heels.

This is the first full dress rehearsal for Mask and Wig’s fall show “No Country for Old Penn,” which debuts Wednesday evening and runs for a total of seven shows.

“It might not look like it right now, but this is the most prepared we’ve ever been during my four years with Wig,” College senior and Mask and Wig Chairman Zach Shen said amidst a backdrop of shouted orders and occasional profanity.

While the crew focused on technicalities, the cast ran through its lines and was met by laughter off-stage from members listening to the show’s one-liners. 

Despite its lighthearted humor, the show required extensive planning and preparation. 

“As soon as we finished our junior year, we wanted to plan early. We started writing bits in May,” Shen said. During the initial stages, Engineering senior and Stage Manager Billy Clarke met with other section heads and decided on the show’s Western theme.

The show follows the format of Mask and Wig’s past shows: an original opening and closing piece by the band and sketches and bits interspersed with renditions of popular songs. “What makes this show unique though is that I’ve noticed there’s more political humor and topical current events,” Clarke said.

Although the troupe, which consists of 48 students across all four years, rehearsed during Fall Break, it didn't gain access to the Iron Gate Theatre until Saturday. Having done run-throughs from 7 p.m. until midnight during the past two days, members feel prepared for the show's debut. 

“This has been the tamest hell week that I’ve ever been a part of,” Shen said. He attributes this to the early planning and gives credit to the energy of the new members. “We took in 15 new guys this year, and this has probably been the most enthusiastic class of freshmen that I’ve ever seen in my time here.”

The business staff has been busy amplifying their advertising this week by selling tickets on Locust Walk and setting up shifts outside the Quadrangle to encourage freshmen to come out to the shows. “Ticket sales have been good. We’re excited to fill up the theater,” Engineering senior and Business Manager Sam Rowland said.

The show is expected to deliver lots of laughter along with wittier humor than past years. “We tried to put in some commentary, and it’s more smart humor, which reflects the growth of our writers,” Shen said.

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