Angela Grovey is excited to be in a play. Known for her work in musical theater, and having worked in both film and television (Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), doing The Play That Goes Wrong was a different challenge.
“Because I mostly do musical theater, the opportunity to have a role in a play is great,” she says about playing Annie in the touring production, stopping in Houston this week. “I remember when this show was on Broadway. Everyone was talking about it; people were seeing it multiple times. I can’t recall when a play got that kind of buzz.”
And buzz is definitely the right word. The madcap comedy by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields, and Jonathan Sayer is an export from London, where it ran for more than two years and took home the Olivier Award for Best Comedy, is a frantic farce. Described as a combination of Monty Python and Agatha Christie, it’s the story of opening night for The Murder at Haversham Manor—where things quickly escalate from bad to dumpster fire. The leading lady is unconscious. The actors flub their lines and pacing. Meanwhile, onstage histrionics are high.
“I love that my character is so passionate about her job,” Grovey says. “ I feel a connection to her in that way; she’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
In may ways, that’s been the story of Grovey’s career. She grew up in the Missouri City area, graduating from Elkins High School. While she was in high school, she took classes with TUTS’s Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and had a role in the company’s production of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby. That was when she first began to realize that acting could be her future.
“My senior year at high school, I was involved in forensics and the thespian society,” she explains. “I was either going to UT or a theater school. But, you know, I just felt that the arts kept pulling at me. Something about it felt so right. And I am so grateful to my parents who allowed me to follow what my heart was telling me.”
She went on to study at Roosevelt University’s Theatre Conservatory in Chicago, then worked in the Windy City for a couple of years before setting out for New York. Once she hit the Big Apple, she had roles off-Broadway and on, and recently completed a stint understudying Marley in Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville. She toured with Newsies in 2014 as Medda Larkin, and sang was Sally Ann in the Irish Repertory Company’s production of Finian’s Rainbow. She started touring with The Play That Goes Wrong last September and is excited to come back to her hometown.
“It’s hard to describe [how I feel about it],” she says. “It’s so nice to be able to show your relatives and the community that supported you what you do. I feel so honored to be part of the theater community. And to have the chance to perform in front of people I’ve known and grown up with, that feels really nice.”
Grovey says audiences around the country have been enthusiastic about the show, and she stresses that it’s best to go into it without any expectations. That way, she says, the play’s sheer joy will envelope you.
“If you want to laugh for two and a half hours, this show is for you,” she says. “This is an ageless show. And you will laugh. A lot.”
March 26–31. Tickets from $35. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St. 800-982-2787. More info and tickets at houston.broadway.com.