“Noises Off” to take center stage at Midland Community Theatre

MIDLAND It’s a show within a show.

The play “Noises Off” is a farce where, Director Jane Moore describes, “there’s a lot going in and coming out.”

“There are always mistaken identities and that’s what’s going on in this play,” Moore said.

That’s what Moore likes the most about directing the show which will run at Midland Community Theatre from April 22-May 7.

The play, which was written by Michael Frayn, takes a fond look at the follies of theater people whose susceptibility to out-of-control egos, memory loss and passionate affairs turn every performance into a high-risk adventure.

In the play, the actors are playing characters from another show.

“They are double cast as an actor and a character,” Moore said.

The play-within-a-play captures a touring theater troupe’s production of “Nothing On” in three stages: dress rehearsal, the opening performance and a performance towards the end of a debilitating run.

“’Noises Off’ refers to what happens offstage,” Moore said. “This show is also unique in that the set spins and the first act, you see it face front and then the second act, we see what happens backstage. All of the hurrying around and all the rotten things they do to each other because there are mistaken ideas of what’s going on in the relationships between each other. Third act, it is back to the front and by that time they are truly not happy with each other. They do things to try and mess each other up.”

Brimming with slapstick comedy, “Noises Off” gives the audience a window into the inner workings of theater behind the scenes, progressing from flubbed lines and missed cues in the dress rehearsal to mounting friction between cast members in the final performance.

Pam Keel plays the role of Belinda Blair in “Noises Off” who is a cheerful, sensible and reliable actress and the company’s de-facto peacemaker.

“Off-stage, I’m married to a playwright and so we’re like a little theater family,” Keel said of her character in “Noises Off.” “I would say that she’s organized and likes to keep things going and when things start to fall apart, she’s the one who keeps trying to keep them going.”

Belinda plays the part of Flavia Brent in “Nothing On.”

Keel has been involved with Midland Community Theatre for over 30 years.

“I came in 1989,” Keel said. “I’ve done at least one show a year.”

Keel said one of the reasons she auditioned for this play was because of the clever writing.

“The little one-liners are funny,” Keel said. “We’ve been laughing and chuckling at it. It’s something different and the characters are so much fun. I just really love the script and how clever and funny it is.”

Playing the role of Selsdon in “Noises Off” who plays the role of a Burglar in “Nothing On” is Carl Beery Moore.

“The thing I like the most about ‘Noises Off’ is the fact that the audience that comes to see it gets to see the workings of theater which is something that most people have not seen,” Moore said. “They’ll have seen shows from the point of view of audiences.”

Moore described his character of Selsdon as “particularly amusing.”

“He’s a little deaf and he misunderstands most of what people say to him,” Moore said. “He responds as though he understands it.”

Kevin Leoffler plays the role of Frederick (Freddie) Fellowes in “Nothing’s On,” a character who has a serious fear of violence and blood.

While Fellowes is well-meaning, he lacks confidence and can be dim-witted.

“Freddie is shy and nervous all the time,” Leoffler said. “He thinks he’s doing things wrong because he is.”

Fellowes plays the character of a successful (and arrogant) playwright called Phillip in “Nothing On.”

Leoffler has been doing shows at Midland Community Theatre for 12 years now. He said he watched the play “Noises Off” as a kid and was eager to audition for it.

“Here at Midland Community Theatre, we’re all a big family,” Leoffler said. “They’re my friends and my people and I spend a lot of my free time here.”

Moore has been doing shows at Midland Community Theatre every year since 1984.

She said the main reason why she wanted to direct this show was because of her love of comedies.

“I love farces and I love comedies, both acting and directing them,” Moore said. “The timing is so important in this show to get the people coming through the doors at the right time and also to get the backstage business happening along with the front.”

The crew has been practicing for over a month now and despite a few illnesses from early on, Moore says the play is coming along nicely. Getting the blocking correct has been one of the challenges in the show.

“Even though we’ve had a few illnesses, we are pretty much right where we need to be,” Moore said. “There are certain things that happen in rehearsals and right now we’re working on timing and blocking and making sure that what we say fits with where we’re supposed to be.”

If you go

  • What: Noises Off.
  • Where: Midland Community Theater.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. April 22, 7:30 p.m. April 23, 2:30 p.m. April 24, 7:30 p.m. April 29, 7:30 p.m. April 30, 7:30 p.m. May 6, 7:30 p.m. May 7.
  • Where to buy tickets: tinyurl.com/4awtv9vt