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Draper Journal

‘Noises Off’ Explodes at Draper Historic Theatre

Jun 29, 2016 10:34AM ● By Kelly Cannon

The cast attempts to finish rehearsal during a production of “Noises Off.”—Scott Twitchell.

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]

In a mad-cap comedy, the Draper Historic Theatre presented “Noises Off,” a play about the struggles of putting on a theater production. The play opened on May 20 and ran both that weekend and the following weekend.

Working as a play-within-a-play, the comedy focuses on actors, a director and a stage manager attempting to put on a production. As behind-the-scene issues become more and more dramatic, including a love triangle, an alcoholic actor and more than one relationship ending, the production of the play becomes more unbalanced and crazy, resulting in production falling apart completely.

The cast has been working on the play for the past two and a half months. According to Pam Winrow, the director of the production, the original plan was to have the theater produce “Annie,” but they were unable to secure the rights in time.

“We decided to do a straight play instead,” Winrow said

Winrow, who also played Belinda Blair in the play, said she has seen the play about five times before taking it on as director. Assistant Director Brent Johnson has been in the play before, playing the role of the overworked stage manager Tim Allgood.

Winrow said the main challenge of producing “Noises Off” was trying to find the rhythm of comedy.

“It’s a show that needs to have that rhythm,” Winrow said.

Johnson added the play is difficult because the comedy is reliant upon a complicated story.

“It’s very difficult to find a way to organize the chaos,” he said.

Winrow said the second act is the most difficult part of the play. During the second act, the audience gets to see what is happening behind the scenes while the actors perform the play. This is also when emotional tensions are running high between cast mates after love triangles are discovered and relationships have ended.

“There is so much chaos going on. You have to make sure what needs to be seen is seen and what isn’t supposed to be seen isn’t seen,” Winrow said. “It’s also the most physical too.”

When casting the play, Winrow said she was looking for good movers with a good core of comedic timing.

“I wanted actors who could really carry their own, really strong actors,” Winrow said.

Kristie Post Wallace played the role of Dotty Otley, a middle-aged actress who is forgetful about lines and cues and has a romantic interest in Garry Lejeune. Dotty later infuriates Garry by showing an interest in Freddy Fellowes, who is later the subject of Garry’s wrath.

“She’s a strong actress, quirky and fun who is good at improvising in the moment but at times can lose control,” Wallace said about Dotty.

According to Wallace, the biggest challenge of playing Dotty was the physical comedy and the timing.

“I really put in extra time trying different things,” Wallace said. “I would run things with actors and I’d practice things by myself.”

Playing the role of Garry Lejeune was Daniel Paredes. Garry is a stuttering actor who is easily fired up and attacks Freddy in fits of jealousy.

Paredes found out about the auditions through Winrow, with whom he is friends. He first saw the movie based on the play in a theater class.

“When I saw it, I thought, ‘That show is impossible,’” Paredes said. “Now here I am doing it.”

Paredes said much like the play-within-the-play, the production went through a lot of its own hiccups and hold-ups while getting closer to opening night.

“The week before, we didn’t feel ready and we wondered if we could pull this off,” Paredes said. “We opened and we were okay. It was life imitating art.”

For the last day of the performance, Soren Barker played the role of Lloyd Dallas, the director of the play. The role was performed by Devin Malone the rest of the performances, but he had a scheduling conflict the last day of the show’s run, leading Barker to step in.

Barker described the character of Lloyd as a person who thinks he’s God.

“He thinks he has control when there is so little he can control, especially in Acts 2 and 3,” Barker said.

Barker said the most challenging act was the second act.

“We had to line up the choreography. We had to know who has which whiskey bottle and who has the ax and it all had to be in sync with the dialogue,” Barker said. “It was tricky and challenging but it was rewarding.”    λ