Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Drama Workshop Presents Noises Off Written by Michael Frayn

Tom and I went to see Noises Off on Sunday, August 14.  Tom drove through torrential rain from our home, through Dayton and even further south.  By the time we arrived at The Glenmore Playhouse in Cheviot, the sun was shining.  That made it easy for Tom on his power chair to get into the theater.  We heard that there were two heavy spells of rain during the play but the sun was shining again when we left the theater.  

I'm glad we braved the rain because the play was a slapstick comedy which kept us and the audience laughing.  Anyone who has had anything to do with  a grade school program or a church program, or a high school play either as a player or a director will recognize the basis of this farce.  

Noises Off is a play with a play within it.  The inner play, Nothing On, is rehearsed and then presented twice, once as the audience watches from backstage and once as the audience watches the stage.  The playbill for Nothing On enclosed in the Noises Off playbill is an extension of the farce and made me chuckle when I read it later.

Meanwhile, the actors and actresses  have their own issues emerging.  Just what is going on in real life?  Sometimes they know and sometimes they have no idea.

The cast includes from left to right...

Stephanie Adams as Belinda Blair, a cheerful sensible actress
Tim Binzer as Frederick Fellowes, a timid actor afraid of violence and blood
Elizabeth Beatty as Poppy Norton-Taylor, an emotional Assistant Stage Manager
Natasha Boeckmann as Brooke Ashton, a beautiful, dense young actress

Bill Keeton as Lloyd Dallas, the director of Nothing On
Kent Smith as Selsdon Mowbray, the elderly actor with a love for whiskey
Mary Ann Smith as Dotty Otley, a forgetful actress
Eric Thomas as Tim Allgood, an overworked stage manager
Ian Tinney as Garry Lejeune, a stuttering actor

The director of the inner play, Nothing On, Lloyd Dallas,  gets so upset with the flawed final rehearsal that he finally exclaims when one of the actors wants to understand the play,  "Getting the sardines on, getting the sardines off.  That's farce!  That's theater!  That's life!" 

That comment explains the fish on the lobby display.  I wondered why 3-D fish were part of it.  Afterward I heard that getting exactly the right fish for the part was one of the problems the Properties Crew leader, Valeria Amburgey, had to solve.  Just any fish weren't usable.  But the right fish were found.

Dennis Murphy was the director. I've always been curious about the difference between a director and a producer so I went online to learn more.  I found good job descriptions at Community  I will use that site more now that I have found it.

Part of the definition I found for director --"It is the director that the rest of the team looks to for the vision and understanding of the play."  Dennis Murphy does an outstanding job.  In his notes to the audience, he wrote that Act 2, (when the back stage set is facing the audience), was a particular challenge.  I was impressed with the audience being able to follow the action of  "Nothing On" through a stage window at the same time that all kinds of slapstick events were being mimed backstage. Never did the mimes obscure the window. He met the challenge and so did the actors.  The scene worked beautifully.

Elaine Volker was the producer.  Again, I went to Community for a definition--"The producer is responsible for all the tasks involved in the physical realization of the production on stage."  Under this statement is a list-- twenty specific duties. Once I asked my daughter what the job of the producer was.  She said, "The producer does everything the director doesn't do."  Elaine did a great job.  I can't begin to conceive of all the time involved in this position.  This job takes a well-organized individual.

Dennis Murphy also noted in his Director's Notes that The Drama Workshop would never have scheduled Noises Off if the group did not have "absolute trust" that set designer, Ray Persing, could design and build a two-story, seven door set sturdy enough to support the action and revolve between acts as needed. (That's our son, the engineer.)

Here is one side of the set...the stage...

and the other side... back stage...

I'm sorry I didn't get a photo of the stalwart TWD crew turning the set.  Ray said there are 68 casters on  the set  which revolves with power provided by the muscles of The Drama Workshop crew.  The audience gave the turning of the set a round of applause.

Here are more of the creative team members who made this play possible.

Elizabeth Boland, Jason Cox, Elaine Michael, Valeria Amburgey

Tobie Braverman, Gretchen Gantner, Michele Fortman, Gretchen Stommel, Carol Smith

The play will be presented again this coming weekend, August  26, 27, and 28.  If you like to laugh, don't miss it.  You can get more information by going to
calling 513-598-8303

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that your son was involved! That looks like some set! What fun for you to go see the play! :)