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‘Pink Panther’ ready to strike the stage in Zillah

Zillah High School actors rehearse for the Nov. 2 opening of Zillah High School Drama Club presentation of The Pink Panther Strikes Back, Curtain time is 7 p.m.

Lynn Brant
Zillah High School actors rehearse for the Nov. 2 opening of Zillah High School Drama Club presentation of The Pink Panther Strikes Back, Curtain time is 7 p.m.

— When we imagine a detective, we often think of a hardboiled tough person in a trenchcoat tracking down and trapping the villain, High School Z Center Stage Director Lynn Brant said.

However, all you have to do is transport yourself to France, add a mustache and trademark hat, and you have a completely different kind of detective—the infamous Jacques Clouseau!

Brant and her Z Center Stage Theater Company will present the upcoming production of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Nov. 2, 3, 4 in the first of six performances on the Z Center Stage, V. Curtain time is 7 p.m.

Additional performances are Nov. 9,10 and 11.

Tickets are available through at ZCenterStage.com, and good seats are still available. Brant encourages theatre-lovers to purchase their tickets in advance.

The hilarious comedy featuring the bumbling detective created by Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther series of films many have seen and enjoyed for years!

The comic essence of the marvelous film with all its verbal and visual humor has been captured in the play, Brant said.

The world’s most unusual criminologist, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau, played by Cameron Wertenberger, fights for his life and for the future of all mankind in the most bizarre and dangerous caper of his brilliantly successful and utterly clumsy career.

Paul Dreyfus (Tim Leslie), once his long-suffering boss, now turned into a raving lunatic, holds the world at bay with the ultimate weapon, the Doomsday Machine. Dreyfus is out to get Clouseau, the man whose undeserved success has driven him crazy, and he threatens to vaporize continents if the nations of the world don’t deliver Clouseau to him—alive or, if possible, dead!

Blissfully unaware that the army of deadly assassins is gunning for him, or that the beautiful girl who seeks him out is a Russian agent (played by Kendra Bower), Clouseau incredibly stumbles and slips by every attack.  However, the world is running out of time because the increasingly frustrated Dreyfus, doodling with the Doomsday Machine, is running out of patience. At the critical moment, it suddenly appears that Clouseau is finally running out of luck. Then he fires from the hip and hits—our funny bone!

“I have always loved the Clouseau character from the films,” Brant said. “And so when we found this script, I was intrigued by the chance to put it into production.”

Rehearsals focused on working on the timing of the many comic gags found in the film. These included the memorable karate battles between Clouseau and his trusty servant, Cato, a stage show featuring a butler turned Judy Garland impersonator followed by a tango where mafia types attempt to take out both he and our hero, and a scene where literally every character on stage “dies” while attempting to assassinate Clouseau to meet Dreyfus’ demands.

That is, all except the oblivious Oktoberfest band members who keep merrily playing their polka. The set has also been a creative challenge, she said. The script calls for 22 different scenes that must transition smoothly from one to the next.

The tech crew and directors responded with a 60’s cartoon palette of bright colors and a rolling platform that can be set on both sides. Add to that the infamous Doomsday Machine a giant laser driven ray gun and you have quite the visual treat, from the Pink Panthers who heckle Clouseau in our version of the animated prelude all the way to the potential destruction of the entire country of England toward the end of the show.

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