I think most of the time people consider straight plays to be easier than musicals. And to some extent, I think that’s correct. Musicals have all that singing and dancing and whatnot. But I think Noises Off could give a musical a run for their money.
Noises Off is a farce, a very zany play that involves a lot of running around. In act one, the cast of Nothing On is in their final rehearsal and everything is going horribly wrong. In act two, it’s a performance in the middle of their tour and everything is in even worse condition- especially since now the set is turned around and the audience is watching the pantomimed antics backstage. And in act three, it is the final performance of the run and nothing at all is going the way it should.
I auditioned not knowing which role I should go for- Poppy, Dotty, Belinda, or Brooke. I was lucky enough that the first or had me read for all four roles multiple times. (I actually filmed my audition prep process if you’d like to see it- comment below if you think I should post it!) In the end, I was cast as Belinda.
(Side note: my costume might look familiar. It’s part of my Dapper Day Elinor ensemble!)
I’ve done some challenging shows in my day, but this was probably the most fun challenge I’ve experienced in a while. The first hurdle was that I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal because of A Chorus Line- but the director knew that before I auditioned and cast me anyway. (Always post your conflicts on your audition form!)
The hardest part for me once we got into rehearsals was remembering which cue lead to which line. Belinda’s bits tend to be non sequiturs, so there isn’t a good set up to trigger the next line of dialogue. And since all three acts follow a similar structure, the same cue line in all three acts could lead into completely different responses. I literally made myself little cue cards to keep in my skirt pocket to prompt myself through tech week. I was fine without them once they opened, but the sense of training wheels has been very reassuring.
Belinda is also a challenging character to play. She’s a perky optimist, so how do you keep her from getting boring? She’s a major gossip, so how do you keep her likable? She’s saying all these nice things, but is she completely genuine or a little bit sarcastic about it? It’s been fun to play a character with so many options.
The show was booked for a three weekend run, nine performances total. After last Friday, performance number four, the guy playing Lloyd broke his arm, so for the Saturday performance the actor playing Tim stepped in to play Lloyd and one of the stage crew stepped in to play Tim. I described it as “a very sweaty performance.” It was nervewracking for sure, especially since it felt like I had just hit my stride, but the actor now playing Lloyd is delightful and I worked with him last summer on Charley’s Aunt, so I was happy to have scenes with him this time.
Tomorrow begins our last weekend of performances; I’m planning on vlogging my way through the last three shows. Stay tuned, I may have more edits to this post as we wrap up this run!