Sandy’s production of ‘Noises Off’ brings lots of laughs, backstage look at theaterFeb 26, 2019 03:17PM ● By Heather Lawrence
The cast of Sandy Arts Guild’s “Noises Off”. Back row L to R: Tony Porter, Joseph Kyle Rogan, Corinne Adair, Jason Wadsworth, Lindsay Higbee, Sean Buckley. Front row L to R: Marc Reading, Laura Bedore Lerwill, Elizabeth Hanley. (courtesy Elyse George/Sandy City)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
The Sandy Arts Guild’s production of the British farce “Noises Off” is a good example of community theater both from the front of the stage and backstage. Playing at The Theater at Mount Jordan Middle School (9351 South Mountaineer Lane) in February until March 2, the show highlighted great local talent and introduced audiences to a fun comedy.
The show, directed by David Hanson and Britney Nielson, was done in three acts, with an intermission between each where the set was turned completely around.
“It’s the definition of insanity trying to put on something like this. The crew! If you look at that set, they’ve just done an incredible job,” said Lindsay Higbee, who played Belinda Blair and Flavia Brent.
Act I showed a theater troupe rehearsing the scene of a play, the set turned toward the audience. Soon, the director (played by Jason Wadsworth) intervened from the audience to fix some problems.
One of the best things about the production was the audience was let in on the idea that these actors were people, with backstories of their own. The actress on stage (Laura Bedore Lerwill) dropped the English accent she’d been using as Mrs. Clackett and became Dotty the actress. Each actor used clues like that to help the audience.
During the rehearsal, with all the troupe members and several crew members on stage, their idiosyncrasies poked through: they missed entrances, forgot lines, wondered about their motivation and spread rumors of backstage romances.
Nolana Lord, an audience member, said it was dead on accurate. “I’ve never seen this play, but I love it. I do theater, and everything that’s happening is so true. Things are going wrong hours before the opening night, there are forgotten lines, exhaustion,” Lord said.
The ingénue, Vicki, played by Brooke Ashton (played by Corinne Adair), was very good at memorizing lines, but not great at responding when there’s a hiccup in the production. She also habitually loses her contact lens.
Selsdon (Tony Porter) is supposed to play a burglar, but due to troubles with alcohol, he never breaks the stage glass at the right moment.
The set included seven working doors on three separate levels. It was essential to facilitate the entrances and exits of cast members. Character Flavia Brent alluded to this in the line, “Nothing but flapping doors in this house.” The stage crew, led by stage manager Steve George, did an excellent job.
Act II played “backstage.” Set one month later, the troupe performed the same scene. This adds another layer to the joke because now the audience knows how the scene is supposed to go from the front.
The actors tried to keep quiet backstage, but personal tensions mounted. Roger the estate agent (Joseph Kyle Rogan) silently chased a rival beau with an axe, and a surprise announcement nearly sent the ingénue packing.
Scott Clayton of South Jordan was there on a double date and said it was a great comedy. “I didn’t know anything about this play. I’ve never seen it before. But the overall timing, the constant tension — it’s really funny,” Clayton said.
In Act III the same scene was played, this time from the front again. The cast devolved from professional to petty. Phillip Brent (Sean Buckley) ended up with his pants around his ankles and his hand glued to a plate of sardines.
Director Lloyd Dallas and stage manager Tim Allgood (Marc Reading) anticipated whether Selsdon would miss his entrance again. Poppy, the other stage manager (Elizabeth Hanley), tried desperately to control everyone backstage.
The production picked up as time went on. There were a lot of laughs, and even kids in the audience got it. There was great physical comedy, including a somersault down the entire flight of stairs by Rogan.
“I can’t say enough good things about the cast and the crew of this show. It’s been an incredible experience,” Higbee said.
Director David Hanson nailed it when he wrote in his notes, “At times, one simply needs to sit in a comfy chair for a couple of hours and not have to expend mental or emotional effort.” Sandy’s production did just that.