Laughs on the way – in Parkrose High’s NOISES OFF

After you read this, you’ll want to mark your calendar to see the very funny show coming to the Parkrose High School Theater’s stage, starting on May 9 …

As their set is being built, the stage crew and actors at the Parkrose High School Theater position props to help them work out the “blocking” for their spring comedy production, NOISES OFF.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A play is coming to Parkrose High School that’s as hilarious as last fall’s presentation of Antigone was powerfully dramatic. It’s the Parkrose High School Theater Department’s presentation of NOISES OFF, starting on May 9.

Members of Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 and the school’s drama class students decided to mount this production. But, this unique play requires a lot of rehearsal time, commented Parkrose High Theater Instructor Ms. Zena.

“Balancing our season with the dark drama Antigone,” Zena said, “We really wanted to present a play that is ‘incredibly light’. But, doing comedy well is a serious acting challenge. And, we haven’t done a straight-on comedy in a number of years.”

Working on their lines for NOISES OFF are student actors Elizabeth Hurliman (playing a spacey young actress Brooke Ashton), who ignores Jacob Van Horn (playing Lloyd Dallas, a temperamental theatrical director who is stuck working with an oddball cast) – while below, Leah Coyle (playing the casually pregnant Poppie Norton-Taylor, the director’s girlfriend) makes demands. At the same time, Zeth Hillman-Johnson (playing stuttering character actor Garry Lejeune) tries to spit out his lines clearly.

The comedy NOISES OFF has “been on her radar” for a long time,” Zena told East Portland News during a mid-April rehearsal. “But like I said, it isn’t easy. There are lots and lots of lines that have to be delivered with great comedic timing, and there’s the need to coordinate physical comedy stunts.

“The kids convinced me that they could do it,” Zena added, “so I said, ‘Okay’!”

Ms. Zena directs the student actors, helping them find their pace, as they hone their comedic timing for the upcoming presentation of NOISES OFF.

Unlike a comic farce, where the humor comes from a storyline based on mis-identified characters and motives, NOISES OFF is a situation comedy about a rag-tag company of actors trying to put on a third-rate sexy comedy titled “NOTHING ON”.

English playwright Michael Frayn said he got the idea for NOISES OFF from watching such a play actually being produced – from backstage.

This comedy opens as the cast struggles through a dress rehearsal, the day before opening night. The audience is taken “backstage” during the second act, and is treated to behind-the-scenes shenanigans taking place between bitter, petty, jealous – and tipsy – actors, during the run of the show.

In the last act, the set again faces forward. The actors flail through the scene and the audience sees why – that even if it wasn’t officially “Closing Night” – it definitely should have been!

Shawna Appel (playing hard-working stage manager Timia Allgood) tries to move in set pieces while Jason Gutierrez (playing the ever-tipsy actor Selsdon Mowbray) takes another swig – paying no attention to Bailey Golar (as sensible actress Belinda Blair) as she hams it up with Llake Anderson (forgetful actress Dotty Otley).

“It’s a crazy, raucous, obnoxious, comedy,” Zena said. “We’re working to make sure we present it well, making it ‘pee-your-pants’ funny.  It’s that good, it’s that kind of show.”

NOISES OFF Opens on May 9
The curtain goes up in the Parkrose High Theater on May 9 at 7:00 p.m. for the production of NOISES OFF.

The show’s run continues its evening performances on May 10; and 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 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.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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