Scotts Valley High School students run through a tech rehearsal of “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which runs Dec. 1-10. — Submitted

The Sunday before Thanksgiving was a busy day at Scotts Valley High School. 

Amid the whir of electric screwdrivers, handheld drills and circular saws, students from the drama department were hard at work preparing for their newest production which debuts in December. “The Play That Goes Wrong” is a masterpiece of the play-within-a-play genre that leaves the audience puzzled by the absolute pandemonium that occurs on stage; Director Kendra Kannegaard referred to the piece as “coordinated chaos,” and the multitude of critical reviews for the Broadway production celebrate the “hilarious, fall-down funny” nature of the play, calling it a marriage of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes.

Student Producer Ava Kreer explained that nearly every actor in this production plays two separate roles as the play-within-a-play structure demands, and Kreer is having a blast with this piece. 

“Everything goes wrong in this production: actors forget their lines, set pieces fall down, and the stage crew has to come on stage to become the set—but in the end, it all comes together,” said Kreer. “This one is fun because normally, a show going wrong is every theater person’s worst nightmare, but with this show, it’s all done so meticulously that the audience can’t tell what’s intentionally wrong, and what’s not. That’s the part I love about it.” 

People who have observed the rehearsals are confused, Kreer added, because they don’t know when the show stops. 

“I’ve seen it so many times,” said Kannegaard, “and even I don’t know if they’re pausing for dramatic effect, or if they’ve forgotten their lines. It flips expectations, because everyone who sees it expects a professional show, but from the second the cast steps on stage, nothing goes as planned.”

Student Director Kyan Lundberg says that the message of the production is “The show must go on.”

“Everything’s breaking and falling apart, and the actors are just powering through it, and trying to make it work, but they eventually get it all together in the end,” said Lundberg.

Asher Hildebrand, who does light design and also plays one of the characters in the show, is inspired by the nature of the play. 

“I love how technical it is. We have such an interesting set that does so much more than just provide a background,” said Hildebrand. “You interact with it, and the set looks completely different by the end. There are so many moving parts, and it’s just so cool,” said Hildebrand. “The set is a character, and it messes up just as much as the actors do, but it’s by design. It’s set up to purposefully fail, and that’s what makes it so funny.”

Kannegaard said she is crazy about not only this production and the kids involved in it, but the whole drama program overall. 

“This is a space where kids can come and express their authentic selves. It creates a family for them and they make incredible connections. We have students assemble here from across the school’s strata, so you’ve got athletes hanging out with certified drama kids, and it’s wonderful to see,” said Kannegaard.

Kannegaard is also a member of the board of directors for the newly opened Scotts Valley Community Theatre Guild. She said is looking forward to having future SVHS drama productions held in the new space, but for this production, home is where it’s at. 

“This is a good show choice, even though it’s my living nightmare as a director,” said Kannegaard.

If you’re looking to add a little coordinated chaos to your holiday plans, go see “The Play That Goes Wrong” at Scotts Valley High School, which runs Dec. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 at 7pm. Tickets are available at and are $15 General Admission and $12 for students.

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Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


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