Laughs abound in Parkrose High Theater’s “NOISES OFF!”

See why this stage production is the perfect antidote to the stress and strain of everyday life …

From the start, the characters portrayed by Parkrose High actors seem unprepared for their play, about to open.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When Parkrose High School Theater Department’s production of NOISES OFF! opened on May 9, folks who came to see it couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

This is good, because NOISES OFF! is a modern comedy that combines farce (mistaken identities or motives) with situation comedy, and even a good dose of slapstick humor.

Character Dotty Otley, as Mrs. Clackett in the fumbling production (played by Parkrose High’s Llake Anderson), interacts with character Gary Lejeune who is cast as Roger (played by Zeth Hillman-Johnson) – as character Brooke Ashton, playing Vicki (portrayed by Liz Hurliman), seems to be off in her own little world.

This show requires a two-story revolving set.

“Our set was set was built with a lot of sweat, tears, and joy,” smiled Theater Instructor and the show’s director, Ms. Zena.

“We borrowed the ‘revolve’ [a huge turntable] from Jesuit high school,” Zena told East Portland News. “It was built by Ryan Hendricks, now with Electronic Theatre Controls in Wisconsin.”

Belinda Blair, cast as Flavia (played by Bailey Golar), seems nonplused – as does Frederick Fellowes as Philip (Andre Yu) – while other the other characters try to work out their parts.

The show’s impatient director, Lloyd Dallas (portrayed by Jacob Van Horn), tries to sort things out with his troublesome actors: Belinda, the easily-fainting Brooke, and Dotty.

Zena also praised Cordell Elkins, a student at ACE Academy. “As his Senior Capstone project, he designed and helped build the set. We also had help from Terry Franceschi, the school’s former Theater Operations Manager – and my assistant. All of our theater kids pitched in to finish and paint it.”

And, an impressive set it is! With split-second timing, student actors pop in and out of nine doors – and a window.

A scene starts to fall apart as Dotty comes on stage, Belinda comes down the stairway, and Gary marches over to see why Frederick is standing with his britches down.

Character Poppy Norton-Taylor, the “Assistant Stage Manager” (played by Leah Coyle), looks worried as the before-opening-night dress rehearsal goes awry.

Lloyd is beside himself, trying to figure out why his actor Selsdon Mowbray, cast as “The Burglar” (played by Jason Guiterrez), is holding a plate of anchovies.

About the story …
Noises Off! is a  “play within a play” that takes the audience along on a mirthful and preposterous journey about a fictitious company, made up of second-rate actors.

During the first act, you see the “actors” rehearsing on the day – and long into the night – before the show opens. The show’s director is driven to distraction by his actors’ fumbling with entrances and exits, neglected cues, forgotten lines, and bothersome props – most notably, plates of sardines.

True to the script, the set revolves before the second act, giving the audience a “backstage” view of the show.

Character Tamia Allgood, the mythical show’s Stage Manager (played by Shawna Appel), tries to wrest a bottle of booze from Lloyd, who has come back to visit the show while in production.

In the second act, the entire set is revolved, turning it backwards. Now the audience gets a “backstage” look at the show after it allegedly has been playing for several weeks. Comedy ensues as their off-stage “personal dramas” put them at odds, resulting in a “comedy of errors” of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The set is again turned frontward as the third act begins, and the audience sees the performance as it begins on “closing night”. “The actors are pretty much ‘done with’ the show, and with each other,” Zena said. “By now, we know the play well enough to know that nothing is going right – and it’s clear that it’s a good idea that this show is, indeed, closing down.”

The Parkrose High Theater crew takes a bow after another successful presentation of NOISES OFF!

NOISES OFF! plays this weekend, and next
This production opened in the Parkrose High Theater on May 9. And, NOISES OFF! continues with 7:00 p.m. evening performances on May 10; and also on May 16, 17, and 18. There’s a special 2:00 p.m. matinee performance on May 11.

Because of mature situations, this comedy is recommended for those of at least age 13+. Tickets: Available at the door; $10 adults/$5 teens & seniors.

All performances in the Parkrose High School Theater, located in outer East Portland at 12003 NE Shaver Street.

You’ll stand and applaud when the cast of NOISES OFF! steps out for their curtain call.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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