Noises Off

By Michael Frayn

Directed by Mark E. Schuster
May 2 to 18, 2014

Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Kassandra Novell

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.


Randall T. Anderson

Lloyd Dallas

James Baker

Selsdon Mowbray / Burglar

Jim Donaldson

Tim Allgood

Gemma Fitzsimmons

Brooke Ashton / Vicki

Patti Anne Hachmeister

Belinda Blair / Flavia Brent

Kassandra Novell

Poppy Norton-Taylor

Beth Perry

Dotty Otley / Mrs. Clackett

David Scott

Frederick Fellowes / Philip Brent / Sheikh

Phil Stephanski

Garry Lejeune / Roger Tramplemain

Production Staff 

Director / Set Decorator

Mark E. Schuster

Assistant Director

Jacob Dougherty

Stage Manager

Leah Teske

Master Carpenter

Patrick Schuster

Scenic Designer

A.J. Simon

Costume Designer

Sharon Sohner

Property Designer

Cindy Velcheck

Lighting Designer

Aaron Schmidt

Sound Designer

Breanne Brennan

Wig Master

Anthony Mackie

Civic Theatre captures it all with farcical 'Noises Off'

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
May 8, 2014

WAUKESHA - “Noises Off” by British playwright Michael J. Frayn is one of the most popular farces of all time. A challenge for directors, actors and set designers, it is a farce about putting on a farce, but it could be a play about putting on any live performance and all the things that can go wrong in the process.

I’m sure that the reason Frayn chose to show the chaos that could ensue when producing a farce is that it’s a very physical play, involving perfect timing, good pacing, physical agility and the juggling of a multiplicity of props, not to mention complete synchronization among cast members.

The Waukesha Civic Theatre has taken on this formidable production under the direction of Mark E. Schuster. This brave man and many skilled actors, plus a talented scenic designer and a master carpenter, managed somehow to pull it off. What an achievement!

The play is divided into three acts - a dress rehearsal, the backstage confusion while a performance is going on, and a final disastrous production. In my view, Act II is the funniest because we are treated to what may be going on behind the scenes versus what we usually see.

In the process of the story, we are privy to every director’s nightmares - characters who miss their lines or their cues, actors with egos bigger than their talents, conflicting liaisons between actors, props that don’t appear or disappear as required for the story, doors that won’t open or close (there are always many doors in a farce), actors who question the believability of the script, no-shows, drunken actors or actors who pout behind locked doors. Did I miss any?

A.J. Simon designed a very complex, functional set (the audience actually clapped as they rotated the monstrosity) and carpenter Patrick Schuster brought Simon’s vision to fruition. Randall Anderson delivers the harried director role with aplomb; Beth Perry is perfect as the confused Mrs. Clackett; Phil Stepanski gives us a stellar Garry with his bumbling speech and his masterful physical skills as Roger; the lovable drunk, Selsdon, is memorably rendered by James Baker; and surely one won’t forget the ditzy, petulant Vicki as created by Gemma Fitzsimmons, or Patti Anne Hachmeister’s execution of Belinda Blair, the sanest member of the cast. (How those two women in high heels ran up and down those steep stairs on a steady basis is quite amazing in itself).

Jim Donaldson is excellent at conveying the dim hemophiliac, Tim Allgood. Rounding out the cast are Kassandra Novell and David Scott; they represent the stressed-out backstage crew who are seldom given the credit they deserve for trying to coordinate all things.

All in all, everyone made an outstanding contribution to the craziness. The audience was obviously loving every minute of the chaotic concoction.

“Noises Off” runs through May 18 at the Waukesha Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main St., in downtown Waukesha. For show times and tickets, call 547-0708

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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Waukesha Civic Theatre pulls off ambitious 'Noises Off'

By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
May 5, 2014

"Noises Off" is like putting chocolate sauce on chocolate ice cream. If you like chocolate, you love it.

If you like farces, "Noises Off" is doubly delicious.

That's because it's a farce within a farce. Having finished its run of another play-within-a-play, the musical "Curtains," Waukesha Civic Theatre is tackling perhaps the most ambitious farce of all time.

Not only does the show require a company that can handle the breakneck speed of the comedy, it also requires that sound (by Breanne Brennan), lighting (Aaron Schmidt) and set design be of high quality to handle the tricky aspects of the play.

The transition between Act II and Act III, in which the entire two-story backstage scene rotates to the front, was handled with great speed and efficiency on opening night, bringing applause from an audience appreciative of A.J. Simon, scenic designer, and Patrick Schuster, master carpenter, as well as director and set decorator Mark Schuster. The move was especially impressive considering how massive and elaborate these sets were.

"Noises Off" opens onto the set of "Nothing On" as the ensemble is conducting its dress rehearsal. It's 1982 at a theater in England.

Dotty Otley (Beth Perry) is playing a maid in the comedy "Nothing On" and having a hard time remembering where the sardines, newspaper and phone are supposed to go in the scene. Otley isn't the only performer with issues — one gets frequent nosebleeds, another is a nearly deaf alcoholic. One star is clueless to stage direction while another can barely complete a sentence off stage. Plus rumors fly about with whom the director is having a fling. The cast is a mess.

Randall Anderson plays the director, Lloyd Dallas, with large doses of sarcasm rather than exasperation. "I'm starting to know what God felt like when he sat out there in the darkness, creating the world," he muses during the wreck of a rehearsal.

In Act II, we see the troupe backstage during its 10-week run of "Nothing On." The director is like a circus performer, trying to keep all the plates twirling on the pole but failing miserably as the backstage drama is even more hilarious than the play on stage. Here is where WCT implemented some amazing staging, getting the sound and the lighting of the play going on in the background just right, while chaos is breaking out backstage. The performers' frantic pantomimes, whisperings and backstage antics were handled brilliantly by the cast on opening night. "Noises Off" gets its name from the stage direction for sounds coming from offstage.

The final scene in "Noises Off" might be one of the funniest in farcedom as the "Nothing On" troupe puts on its final performance while Otley's maid is all over the map with her lines and props, creating even more confusion for the faux play's sorry cast.

WCT has leaned on a couple of its veterans for the show. Perry, who has starred in a couple WCT comedies, including "Dixie Swim Club" and "Busybody," is so good with visual humor and really ratchets it up for the last scene. Phil Stepanski as one the stars of the show, Garry Lejeune, has grown so much on local stages, tackling big roles in "Sweeney Todd," "Miss Saigon" and others. He displays a real flare for physical comedy in this very demanding role.

Gemma Fitzsimmons as Lejeune's co-star, Vicki, complements Stepanski's character nicely. Patti Ann Hachmeister does a nice job with her role as Belinda, the one performer who tries to maintain order among the unruly cast.

With a show such as this, depending on keen timing, it's important to have everyone up to speed, which certainly is the case with this cast, which also included James Baker, Jim Donaldson, Kassandra Novell and David Scott.

But because of the importance of set design and other elements, this show, more than others, needed the expertise of everyone involved. Shout-outs also go to Cindy Velcheck, properties designer, for the easily and quietly moved props; costume designer Sharon Sohner for outfits that look good and work well; and the always competent wig master Anthony Mackie for some great looks, especially Belinda's fabulous blond locks.

Student Discount is available for children and any patron who is able to display a current student ID. Senior discount applies to all patrons 60 years or older.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber Discount is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Kassandra Novell

Kassy took her role as “Stage Manager” on-stage to heart while back stage. She assisted in making sure that all of the props were in their assigned locations before and during the show. When not directly involved on-stage, she helped cast-mates with costume changes and operated the curtain when needed. She was always upbeat and enthusiastic. Kassy was willing to pitch in wherever she was needed.