It’s final dress rehearsal at the Grand Theatre in Weston-Super Mare, England, and for the company of an adult farce called "Nothing On," nothing is going quite right.
In Act I, the set begins to fall apart, the actors cannot remember exits, entrances or lines, and the labor of putting on a show wears on the crew. As audience members, we quietly cheer for them as the director tries to pull it all together for some semblance of a presentable show.
However, Act II in Michael Frayn's play-within-a-play dashes all our hopes. The second act picks up during the run of the show as its wheels completely fall off. The relationships between the actors veer toward toxic, and the quality of the show deteriorates.
Act III is frenetic. It's a month later, and "Nothing On" has reached the point of complete and hilarious failure. The leading lady won't come out of her dressing room, the leading man is back on the sauce, scenery collapses and props explode.
Frayn's hysterical "Noises Off" previews Thursday, Feb. 9, opens Friday, Feb. 10, and runs through April 9, at Oregon Cabaret Theatre, First and Hargadine streets, Ashland. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, Wednesdays and select Mondays, with a Tuesday, Feb. 14, performance for Valentine's Day. Matinees are at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Tickets for the Feb. 9 preview are $22. Tickets for other performances are $22 for bistro seating or $36 and can be purchased online at oregoncabaret.com, by calling 541-488-2902, or at the box office. Oregon Cabaret offers discounts for groups of 10 or more, and $10 student rush tickets are available 30 minutes before curtain, subject to availability.
Reservations are required for pre-show dinners and brunches. Appetizers, beverages and desserts are available without reservations.
“Michael Frayn has really made the piece a comic dance,” says director Valerie Rachelle. “All you have to do is follow his lead. The timing and the comedy are deftly woven into the script.”
Frayn is an English playwright and novelist, best known for "Noises Off" and dramas "Copenhagen" and "Democracy." His novels "Towards the End of the Morning," "Headlong" and "Spies" also received critical and commercial acclaim, making Frayn a success in drama and prose fiction.
Critic Frank Rich said “'Noises Off' is, was, and probably always will be the funniest play written."
Oregon Cabaret brings the mayhem to Ashland, complete with a cast of local characters and a rotating set.
Livia Genise plays Dotty. John Stadelman, John Leistner and Jessica Blaszak play Lloyd, Selsdon and Poppy, respectively. Galloway Stevens, who wowed audiences last year as Billy Flynn and Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is back to play Freddie. Deanna Ott, Stevens' co-star from OCT's "Chicago," plays Brooke.
Paul Michael Garcia plays Garry, and Leah Kolb plays Belinda. James Paul Xavier makes his Cabaret debut as Tim.
Set and lighting design for "Noises Off" is by Craig Hudson, costumes by Claudia Everett, sound by Mike Kunkel and properties designer is G. Andrew Banas.