The Laughter Goes On And On In NOISES OFF At Walnut Street Theatre
Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 209th season with Michael Frayn's classic backstage comedy, NOISES OFF. Directed by Frank Anzalone, this production begins previews on March 13th, opens on March 21st, and runs through April 29th on the Walnut's Mainstage.
Brace yourself for comic chaos with the rip-roaring play within a play, NOISES OFF. The Opening Night performance of the farce Nothing On is just hours away and, as the cast stumbles through their final dress rehearsal, things couldn't be going any worse. With lines being forgotten, love triangles unraveling, and sardines flying, it's complete pandemonium... and we haven't even reached intermission! Can the cast pull their act together on the stage even if they can't behind the scenes? Full of amazing surprises and glorious humor, you will relish every delicious moment of this classic comedy that The New York Times exclaims, "voyages to the outer limits of hilarity!"
The idea for NOISES OFF came to playwright Michael Frayn in 1970 when he stood in the wings of his farce, The Two of Us. He said, "It was funnier from behind than in front." In 1977, he wrote a prototype - a one-act play called Exits. It was later expanded into Noises Off, the name of which came from the theatrical stage direction that indicates sounds coming from backstage. The play premiered in London in 1982 and was wildly successful, running until 1987. In 1983, it opened on Broadway with a cast including Dorothy Loudon, Victor Garber, and Deborah Rush. Since then, it has been revived on Broadway twice (once in 2001 with Patti LuPone and once in 2015 with Andrea Martin) and produced in professional and community theatre across the globe. In 1992, the play was adapted into a film that starred Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, and John Ritter.
Walnut veteran Frank Anzalone returns to the Walnut to direct the production. Anzalone began his Walnut career as stage manager, a position he held for 23 years. He spent nine years as an adjunct professor at the University of the Arts, heading the Stage Management Program. He has directed over 100 productions, including the Walnut Mainstage productions 1776 (Barrymore Award nominee for Best Musical and Best Director of a Musical), Cole Porter's Anything Goes, and Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!. In the Independence Studio on 3 Anzalone has directed productions including Vanities, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds (Barrymore Award nominee for Best Play), Visiting Mr. Green, and I Do! I Do!.
Philadelphia actor Greg Wood will play Lloyd Dallas, the director of the "play-within-a-play." Wood was most recently seen at the Walnut in The Humans, and has also performed in the Walnut productions of Private Lives, Other Desert Cities, God of Carnage, The King & I, Amadeus, Fallen Angels, Born Yesterday, and Finian's Rainbow. Wood's off-stage wife, Susan Riley Stevens, will be playing cheerful and dependable Belinda Blair. At the Walnut, Stevens has performed in The Gift, Harvey, God of Carnage, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fallen Angels, and The Prescott Method.
Walnut veteran Mary Martello will take the stage as Dotty Otley, the aging television star and principal investor of the farce. In her almost twenty years on local stages, Martello has been awarded five Barrymore Awards, received a Lunt/Fontanne Fellowship, and has performed in over 20 Walnut productions. Most recently, she has been seen as Deirdre Blake in The Humans and has also performed at the Walnut as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Mother Superior in Sister Act. Her stuttering leading man, Garry Lejune, will be played by another Walnut favorite, Ben Dibble. In addition to beginning the season in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Dibble has also performed at the Walnut in Saturday Night Fever, Harvey, High Society, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Producers, Arsenic and Old Lace, 9 to 5, and Hairspray.
Alanna J. Smith returns to the Walnut as the young and inexperienced British actress, Brooke Ashton. At the Walnut, Smith was recently seen in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and last season's The Importance of Being Earnest. Leonard C. Haas makes his Walnut Mainstage debut as the dim-witted but well-meaning Frederick Fellows. Haas has performed throughout Philadelphia, including People's Light where he has performed in over 30 productions. The elderly and alcoholic Selsdon Mowbray will be played by John P. Connolly in his tenth Walnut production. Connolly has also performed in over 200 plays (including the original Broadway production of Big River), 20 movies, and over 500 commercials. He was also the Executive Director of Actor's Equity for three years and was awarded the Walnut Street Theatre's Edwin Forrest Award in 2009.
The flustered stage manager Tim Allgood will be played by Daniel Frederick. Frederick was just seen at the Walnut as the charming bachelor Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest and as Oscar Wilde in Mickle Street. Lauren Sowa returns to the Walnut as the emotionally-charged assistant stage manager Poppy Norton-Taylor, after having performed in The Importance of Being Earnest and Harvey.
A two-level, two-sided set, complete with several staircases and doorways galore, is the perfect setting for the madcap hilarity occurring both onstage and off. Leading the creative team is Set Designer Robert Koharchik (Importance of Being Earnest, Harvey, Private Lives). He will be joined by Costume Designer Amanda Wolff (Souvenir), Sound Designer Elizabeth Atkinson (Earnest, Harvey), and Lighting Designer Stuart Duke (Earnest, Private Lives).
NOISES OFF runs at the Walnut March 13 through April 29. Open captioning will be available for the 7pm performance on Sunday, April 8. Media Partners are NBC 10, Metro, and More FM. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.