By Janice Llanes Fabry
Rye Neck High School is presenting the hilarious “Noises Off” at the Performing Arts Center October 26 and 27 at 7:30. The Rye Neck Theater Department, headed by Scott Harris, has never rested on its laurels and this year is no different. Not only does the fall play feature a talented cast and crew of students, but a two-story revolving set might come close to stealing the show.
The 1982 Broadway classic farce by Michael Frayn is about a hapless company of actors attempting to stage a British play. The audience gets a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes during a performance. As a result, Harris explained, the play doesn’t work unless there’s a two-story set with both front and backstage points of view.
“The audience gets to watch actors getting ready to go on stage to perform the play within the play. They get an insider’s view of the magic of theater,” said the director, who hired a set designer to construct the two floors, complete with a fulcrum for spinning. The students played a big part in assembling all the parts.
“As always, our fall play is almost completely homegrown. Students run nearly all aspects of the production,” said Harris. “There’s been a flurry of activity at rehearsals every night since early September, as students have been learning lines, assembling costumes and props, making signs, and basically putting the whole thing together.”
He introduced “Noises Off” to his acting classes last spring. The title comes from the theatrical stage cue that indicates sounds coming from offstage. The play was also made into a screamingly funny feature film in 1992 with a star-studded cast that included Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, and Marilu Henner.
“We laugh all the time during rehearsals as the students practice the timing, the pratfalls, and the slapstick,” Harris remarked. “It’s a very challenging piece because the timing between the action and the dialogue is very specific.”
The school’s fall play has become as much a staple of Rye Neck theater as their elaborate spring musical, albeit on a much smaller scale. All 11 actors have meaty roles and all 40 crew members are integral to the show.
As Harris noted, “For those students who love theater but may not have the singing chops for the spring musical, this is a great option. Because it’s a smaller group, each student has a special connection and feels ownership in the play. It fills them up with joy.”
Tickets are available at the door, general admission. Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students/children.