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NOISES OFF at Everyman Theatre - You Will Laugh Until It Hurts!!

What a smart move by Everyman Artistic Director Vince Lancisi to end this incredible season with a comedy. I could hear him say, "Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em Laugh". Vince...mission accomplished.

He chose what I consider one the funniest farces in theatrical history, NOISES OFF and took it upon himself to direct this masterpiece of laughter. He has assembled eight members of the Everyman Resident Theatre Company: Megan Anderson, Erick Berryman, Danny Gavigan, Deborah Hazlett, Beth Hylton, Will Love, Bruce Randolph Nelson, and Carl Schurr. The one addition is the talented Emily Kester who is making her Everyman debut.

Michael Frayn's play opened in 1983 on Broadway with Dorothy Louden, Victor Garber, and Brian Murray. It was nominated for a Tony for Best Play. In 1992, it was turned into a film directed by Peter Bogdanovich starring Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, Julie Hagerty, Mark-Linn-Baker, and Marilu Henner.

The term "noises off" is a stage direction (noises off stage) and in any farce you will hear "noises off" during the production and you will not be surprised to hear these here.

Lancisi moves the play into the 1970's so there is a small television set there. As you step into the theater you will hear some music highlights from the '70s. There are two playbills, one for NOISES OFF and one for the play within the play NOTHING ON at the Grand Theatre in Weston-Super-Mare (near Cardiff, Wales) starring Dotty Otley. Read them both!!

Lancisi gives the play the superb direction that is necessary. It is seamlessly funny. I can only imagine what rehearsals were like.

NOTHING ON is on a 12 week tour. The second act, four months later, takes place at the Theatre Royal in Ashton-under Lyne (near Sheffield). The third act takes place at the Municipal Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees near Durham on the last legs of the tour.

The show is noted for what happens after Act I,. Act II takes place backstage at the theater while the show goes on and you can actually see parts of the play going on. Then Act III returns to the original set. If you can, stay and watch the superb stage-hands rotate the set. They even get an ovation. They should have taken a bow at the end of the show.

The show begins in a summer home with a maid "Dotty Otley" played by the incomparable Hazlett like you have never seen her before. She is hysterical. Schurr, the director of "Nothing On", is giving stage directions at the rear of the theater the night before the show goes on. She obviously has trouble keeping track of her props (a telephone, a plate of sardines, and a newspaper) The actors inquire is it a "Technical Rehearsal" or a "Dress Rehearsal"? Does it matter??

The actors are just plain superb. They must have British accents for the play NOTHING ON as well as different accents for what happens during Act II.

Kastor and Gavigan are hysterical together as they come for a tryst to the summer home and expect it to be vacant.

Nelson and Hylton as always come to the home also looking for privacy to celebrate their anniversary.

The superb Wil Love plays a burglar who loves the bottle.

Eric Berryman is a stage manager and understudy who shows great comedic talent.

Cues are missed, lines are flubbed, entrances are missed, backstage jealousy is revealed among the cast, fights ensue, (all done with pantomime in Act II since actors must be quiet backstage) and all sorts of shenanigans takes place. The audience is literally in stitches.

By Act III, the actors are exhausted and ready to end the tour. Act III is just plain hysterical.

Daniel Ettinger, the Resident Set Designer, does a masterful job, one of his best.

Eric Abele is responsible for the colorful costumes.

Resident Lighting Designer Jay Herzog does a superb job.

Resident Dialect Coach Gary Logan deserves kudos for the many various English accents.

Philip Owen does a great job with the sound. He is responsible for the great music that includes Al Hirt, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, and Ray Conniff.

After seeing the show you will never look at sardines without laughing.

It was announced that NOISES OFF has the biggest advance sale in history so do not delay. NOISES OFF continues until June 18. For tickets, call 410-752-2208. Visit for the terrific Play Guide.


"The World of the Play" takes place June 3 at 5 p.m. where there will be an in-depth panel discussion about the play hosted by Marc Steiner. Tickets are $5, free for subscribers.

There will be a reading of Alice Childress's TROUBLE IN MIND on June 5 at 7 p.m. directed by Resident Company member Dawn Ursula. I've seen this at Center Stage and Yale Repertory Theatre with E. Faye Butler. I highly recommend it. Tickets are $15.

There is a "Cast Conversation" after the June 8 performance at 9:30 p.m.


I met Jennifer Cody and husband Hunter Foster at Lincoln Center before seeing the fabulous, Tony-nominated OSLO. I remember them so well in the original Broadway cast of URINETOWN. Cody is to star in NOISES OFF at Connecticut Repertory Theatre from June 15 to June 25 in Storrs Ct. Foster will be directing GUYS AND DOLLS at Bucks County Playhouse July 21 to August 12. The theater is in New Hope, PA. For tickets, call 215-862-2121.

Check out the television show "The Voice" on Thursday, June 2 to see the Tony-nominated musical COME FROM AWAY.

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From This Author Charles Shubow