Laugh until you cry at ‘Noises Off’

Chaos on the stage and behind the scenes will have audiences rolling in the aisles when they watch Oak Ridge High School Drama’s production of “Noises Off,” opening March 14.

The play about a play within a play has action (falling down stairs), love triangles (that just might lead to an ax attack) and one poor woman who just wants to enjoy some sardines. Writer Michael Frayn’s story follows the on- and off-stage antics of an acting troupe as they stumble from bumbling dress rehearsal to disastrous closing night.

“All the actors have little quirks that cause a lot of problems,” explained actor Jonathan Gobel, 17, who plays Lloyd Dallas. “So there are lots of little quarrels and at least one love triangle.”

That would involve Lloyd, the play within the play’s director who gets cozy with an actress and the stage manager. The middle-aged, sarcastic director is a bit of player, the Oak Ridge junior confessed. But his redeeming quality is his ability to handle this group of not-so-well-adjusted actors, actresses and crew.

Actress Dotty Otley, played by Oak Ridge senior Courtney Wrba, also has relationship problems. She’s dating actor Garry Lejeune (Matt Kozak), who has a stutter and a jealousy issue that often sends him in a rage after fellow actor Freddy Fellowes (Ryan Van Overeem).

Kozak, a junior, said Garry “wants to control everything,” even if he can’t finish his own sentences. Interestingly, the stutter goes away when he’s onstage playing Roger Tramplemain, a real estate agent who’s convinced he’s seen a ghost.

Wrba said all the characters are “confused, but fun” and the cast really has enjoyed playing them during rehearsals. “We have a lot of fun,” the 17-year-old said, “and it’s contagious.”

That fun also includes a lot of fights, falls and flounders. “It’s a huge, physically demanding play,” said senior/assistant director Abbi Manoucheri. “It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

The set is also a star in “Noises Off.” Mostly built on a revolve so the audience sees both sides, the stage has two stories and eight doors. ORHS alumni Kate Rolls and Luke Rolls, now Folsom Lake College students who work at Three Stages as technicians, designed the set.

Though acknowledging the challenges, Director Janet Henke said this play should attract a wide audience. Because of the adult themes, “Noises Off” is recommended for older children and, of course, adults ready to laugh until they cry.

“It’s a good laugh from beginning to end,” Henke said. “We all need a good laugh.”

“Noises Off” opens in the Oak Ridge High School Theatre at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. Other showtimes are 7 p.m. on March 15 & 16 and April 4-6 with 2 p.m. matinees on March 16 & 17 and April 6 & 7. Tickets are $10 for students/seniors and $12 for adults. Purchase tickets by calling (916) 390-3727 or visiting brownpapertickets.com.

Dotty Otley (Courtney Wrba); Lloyd Dallas (Jonathan Gobel); Garry Lejeune (Matt Kozak); Brooke Ashton (Amber Otwell); Poppy Norton-Taylor (Katelin Tanda); Frederick Fellowes (Ryan Van Overeem); Belinda Blair (Shelby Otwell); Tim Allgood (Pablo Guiot Vial) and Selsdon Mowbray (Keith Walisa).


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