Make us your home page

A good sign for 'Hay Fever': Its cast is having a blast

Caitlin Eason, left, Caroline Jett and Spencer Meyers portray the Bliss family, though their weekend in the country is far from blissful.

Courtesy of Jobsite Theater

Caitlin Eason, left, Caroline Jett and Spencer Meyers portray the Bliss family, though their weekend in the country is far from blissful.


Times Correspondent

The Jobsite Theatre staging of Noel Coward's Hay Fever hasn't even opened yet, but already it's making people laugh.

"We're having so much fun with it," said Caroline Jett, who plays the lead role of Judith Bliss. "We're cracking each other up every night."

So the cast members, at least, will be enjoying themselves. And since Hay Fever has been steadily popular in theaters for almost 90 years, it's a pretty safe bet that audiences will have a good time too.

Coward's play is about four members of a self-absorbed family who each invite a guest to spend a weekend at their country home, and then proceed to act so boorishly that they drive their guests away.

"It's a delicious little comedy of bad manners," Jett said. "Not that these people are deliberately bad-mannered, but they're so wrapped up in themselves that they don't even know when they're being rude."

Jett's character, Judith Bliss, is the matriarch of the artistic family, a retired actor who never quite comprehends that her drawing room is not a stage. She's getting ready for a comeback, in one of her signature roles.

But as in many of Coward's plays, which can be considered precursors to the modern sitcom, it's not so much the characters that matter as the wit of Coward's words.

"We've all been in situations where we wish we had clever barbs we could come up with," Jett said. "Well, these people have them."

Most of the cast members are, like Jett, very familiar to local theater audiences in general and Jobsite fans in particular. Spencer Meyers, Caitlin Eason and Owen Robertson play the other members of the Bliss family; Amy Gray, Michael C. McGreevy, Katie Castonguay and Chris Jackson are their guests and Dana Kovar is Clara, Judith's former dresser and now her housekeeper.

The play was first produced in 1925 and it's the earliest of Coward's plays that's still frequently produced.

The Jobsite production, directed by David M. Jenkins, keeps the action set in that period, and in that place (England) and the actors have adopted both the accents and the acting style of the period.

"It's been a real journey to internalize this language and to internalize this style and get to the point where we can relax with it," Jett said. "We're always breaking out laughing when right in front of us someone comes up with a new way of working that style into the character."

Times correspondent Marty Clear can be reached at

. if you go

Hay Fever

Runs through Feb. 3 at the Shimberg Theater in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $28 plus service charge. (813) 229-7827 or

A good sign for 'Hay Fever': Its cast is having a blast 01/09/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 7:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Taste of Tampa Bay: Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market in St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Pam Prasad, who is originally from Guyana, runs Pam's Roti Shop and Caribbean Market on 38th Avenue N in St. Petersburg with her two sons. Prasad loves to educate her customers about her food, customs and culture. The place is known for its variety of roti combinations, goat dishes and spices.

    Pam Prasad makes roti at Pam's Roti Shop at 2800 38th Ave N. in St. Petersburg. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Plan your weekend: June 30-July 2: Vans Warped Tour, fireworks, corgi races, Guardian Con, Dan TDM


    Plan your weekend

    Vans Warped Tour: The shirtless and inked-up masses will once again descend upon St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Saturday to mosh and thrash to dozens of bands across seven stages. This year brings the likes of Gwar, thrash group Municipal Waste, Southern metal band Valient …

    Corgi in the grass; Dog playing the the grass;
  3. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  4. Fourth of July celebrations firing off all around Hillsborough


    Apollo Beach

    Food Truck Festival celebrates fourth

  5. Channelside, downtown sight of holiday festivities


    CHANNEL DISTRICT — The City of Tampa's largest Independence Day celebration, Light Up Tampa Bay, returns to Channelside Plaza on Tuesday with fireworks, live music, entertainment, face painting and food trucks.

    Fireworks explode over Channelside during last year’s July 4th celebration.