By Marlene Deschler
Spring Grove Herald
In most plays, the acting may appear to be only “stage-deep”; the audience sees only what is happening on the stage and not behind the stage as actors prepare to enter, change costumes, etc.
In a sense, there is a whole other world going on behind the stage. The Ye Olde Opera House (YOOH) is excited to present “Noises Off” – a truly unique theater experience that takes the audience along to see the drama and comedy that not only happens on the stage, but behind the stage as well.
The website “Stage Agent” states, “’Noises Off’ is a play that is a comedy-within-a-comedy that captures a touring theater troupe’s production of ‘Nothing On’ in three stages: dress rehearsal, the opening performance and a performance toward the end of the run.
“Each performance is portrayed from behind the scenes, progressing from flubbed lines and missed cues in the dress rehearsal to mounting friction between cast members in the final performance.”
YOOH will be performing this play on April 5, 6 and 7 at the Fest Building with a large, extensive two-story set that includes both the stage and the backstage.
“Some plays are larger than life. There’s such a thing as a locational theater where you travel in the footsteps of actors and have to go through the same things they do,” explained co-director Rachel Storlie.
“In our case, you just have to travel to the other side of the set, so the audience gets to see the play from both sides. In most theaters, they would have the set revolve, so you’d get to see what they want to let you see as backstage, but we give you the real thing!
“It is a rare theatrical experience for an audience to enjoy this insider’s view while they eat, drink and eavesdrop on the process!”
The cast began their read-throughs in mid-January. “It has been quite a challenge for the cast to be at it this long, but we felt it was necessary to get an early start due to the difficulty of the script and the set,” commented Storlie.
“We have been working extensively on dual character development, since each cast member (with the exception of Tim/Stagehand and Poppy/Stage Manager) has an ‘amateur actor personality’ for their off-stage communication and behavior as well as, a well-defined, scripted personality to carry on their role within the ‘Nothing On’ play.”
Cast members for “Noises Off” include many familiar YOOH faces, Abe Mendez as Frederick Fellowes, Bethany Engen as Belinda Blair, Mark Schroeder as Garry Lejeune, Sarah Schroeder as Dotty Otley, Rob Gross as Selsdon Mowbray, Sara Kroshus as Brooke Ashton, David Storlie as Lloyd Dallas, Robin Bartell as Poppy Norton-Taylor and Harvey Goetting as Tim Allgood.
Friday and Saturday ticket prices of $25 include a three-course meal. With each course, the audience will move to a different location as they watch the production on stage and backstage.
The delicious meal includes: mixed greens with roasted beets, walnuts and blue cheese, Selsdon’s Drunken Pork Chops with apple brandy chutney, seasoned green beans with cashews and garlic mashed potatoes with country herbs plus a choice of dessert.
Coffee and water will be served at each table and a cash bar will be available. Attendees should remember that the bar will only accept cash and no cards.
Sunday’s performance is a dessert theater and the ticket price of $10 includes a choice of assorted desserts such as cheesecake with fruit compote, decadent chocolate and light lemon pie. Coffee and water will be served at each table.
Tickets must be purchased in advance in order for the food to be prepared. There are a limited number of tickets each night, so YOOH encourages people to purchase them soon.
Tickets are available for purchase at Merchants Bank Spring Grove and Caledonia, Spring Grove Communications and Oneota Food Co-op in Decorah, Iowa, as well as from any cast member or by calling YOOH at (507) 498-JULY.
Phone orders must leave information regarding which performance, the number of tickets and a contact name and number for a confirmation call.
Phone orders must send in a check prior to the performance in order to secure their order.
“If you want a first-rate theatrical experience, a memorable and succulent meal, and great atmosphere all combined into one fantastic evening out while supporting the local arts scene, please join us,” added Storlie with a big smile.
“Do not miss your chance to see the funniest farce ever written!”
This story was reprinted with permission from the Spring Grove Herald.