Just about everything that can go wrong will in the Nicolet Players’ upcoming performances of Noises Off, a top-notch comedy about a second-rate group of actors and their arrogant, philandering director who’d rather be anywhere than with his bumbling actors.
The first act of this play-within-a-play filled with adult themes is a hilarious, yet awful, dress rehearsal of the troupe’s inept performance of Nothing On.
The second act takes place two months later and shows the increasingly chaotic performance from backstage, where the actors, in the midst of manic entrance and exit lines, perpetrate amorous and murderous agendas on each other.
By the third act, everything has fallen apart. The actors are frantically trying to cover up dropped lines and missed cues, until a few realize it’s hopeless and begin to ad-lib, and thus somehow manage to salvage the play.
“It’s a far more complex play than any other we’ve done,” said Nicolet College Theatre Director Jim Nuttall. “It’s a farce on steroids. When people watch the second act, they’ll wonder not only how do the actors remember all those lines, but how do they remember when and which door to enter and exit and which prop to catch, and where to trip or not to trip. All of it requires fierce concentration and precision timing. What’s amazing is how well the play hangs together. I’m in awe of the writer, Michael Frayn. He’s an extremely clever writer.”
When Noises Off opened on Broadway in 1982, critics and audiences alike raved about its ability to produce non-stop convulsive laughter with exuberant sight gags and rapid-fire double entendres. Critics proclaimed it to be the “farce to end all farces.” Since then, Noises Off has been a staple of professional and community theatres on both sides of the Atlantic. A movie based on the play was released in 1992 starring Michael Caine, Carol Burnett and Christopher Reeve. In 2001, a Broadway revival proved to be as popular as the original play.
Performances will take place Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 9, 10 and 11, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 12, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 for the general public and $7 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at nicoletlive.com or by calling (715) 365-4646.
All performances will take place in the Nicolet College Theatre, located in the Learning Resources Center on the Nicolet campus, one mile south of Rhinelander just off of Cty. G.