After opening with a minimalistic drama, Centralia College’s theater season will continue with an over-the-top comedy.
And that’s on purpose, said director Emmy Kreilkamp. She said it is important for her that Centralia College’s theater produces shows that start tough dialogues and make people think and also shows that bring them some happiness, especially right now.
“I think right now in this part of the pandemic, we could all use a good belly laugh and the chance to lose yourself in the joy of the theater,” Kreilkamp said. “It’s my hope people are able to take away from this the pure joy the actors share.”
“Noises Off,” one of the most beloved British farces, opens Feb. 11 in Corbet Theatre on the Centralia College campus. It is a show about a show. Or, perhaps more accurately, a show about the people in a show. Director Lloyd (portrayed by Seth MacNeely), stage manager Poppy (portrayed by Brianna Tomtan) and assistant stage manager Tim (portrayed by Joseph Pettit) are in the last stretch before their touring show “Nothing On” opens to the public. But besides technical issues, they have to deal with the personalities, foibles and love-triangles of their actors and actresses: the forgetful and jealous Dotty who portrays Mrs. Clacket (portrayed by Yvonne Christina); the inexperienced and absentminded Brooke, who portrays Vicki (portrayed by Isabel Nixon Klein); hot-headed Garry, who portrays Roger (portrayed by Judah MacNeely); violence and blood-averse but often sporting a bloody nose Freddy, who portrays both Phillip and the Sheikh (portrayed by Isaac Wulff); the sometimes gossipy but often peacemaking Belinda who portrays Flavia (portrayed by Jennifer Cole); and the often-sauced Selsdon, who portrays the burglar (portrayed by D. Douglas Lukascik and Dave Marsh).
By and large, the actors and actresses of “Noises Off” said they knew this show before they auditioned and were attracted to it because of its zany comedy. Christina’s husband had been in the show when he was younger and the couple had gone to see a version of it in Olympia. She said when she saw that Centralia College was offering it, she knew she wanted to be in the cast and she wanted to play Mrs. Clacket, the Cockney housekeeper whose schtick is constantly entering and leaving with, as well as losing, plates of sardines.
“I can play way over the top and still not be over the top,” she said with a laugh.
As with all good farces, “Noises Off” also relies heavily on physical comedy. Pettit, who is part of his 10th show at Centralia College, said that kind of comedy is very physically demanding, almost like choreographed dance scenes in musicals. He said the challenge is for the action to look like chaos but for the actors and actresses to actually be in control the whole time.
“It was hard at first but the more we did it the better we got at it. There are a lot of moving parts,” Pettit said.
A unique aspect of “Noises Off” is that through the magic of a rotating stage, audience members get to see both the mythical play “Nothing On” as well as the backstage antics of the cast and crew as the show slowly deteriorates over its run. Kreilkamp said she decided last year she wanted to produce “Noises Off” at Centralia College, but had to build it into a season around the fact that at the time, the college did not have a technical director for their theater productions and “Noises Off” requires a massive and highly technical set. Besides its timeliness to the current pandemic, the fall production of “The Living” was chosen because it had minimal set designs, allowing for more time to conceptualize and create the two-story, rotating set for “Noises Off.”
Marcus Bingham was recently hired for the technical director opening at Centralia College and has taken the lead in creating the ambitious set for “Noises Off.” Bingham joined the Centralia College staff from Wenatchee Valley College and has more than 30-year experience in theater productions, from acting on the stage to directing and building sets and technical designs. Bingham said he is in the process of creating plans to hopefully modernize and upgrade the lighting and sound systems for Corbet Theater. But for now, he said the focus is on completing the “Noises Off” set, which he said could not have been done without many helpers.
“We’re going to be very proud of this piece and we’re going to be very exhausted,” Bingham said.
If You Go
What: Centralia College Drama presents “Noises Off”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 11-12 and Feb. 17-19 and 2 p.m. Feb. 13 and Feb. 20. The performance on Sunday, Feb. 13 will be followed by a discussion with the cast and crew
Where: Corbet Theatre in Washington Hall on the Centralia College Campus
Tickets: $12 adults, $10 students/seniors. Special “pay-what-you-can” night is Thursday, Feb. 17.
Info: Tickets can be purchased at centralia.edu/theatre or by calling (360) 623-8871. Proof of vaccination and masking required for all attendees.