The farcical comedy of a growing collection of mishaps punctuates the plot of “Noises Off,” opening tonight when the Lewiston Civic Theatre continues its season at the former Lewiston High School on Normal Hill.
The play, in three acts, follows a show-within-the-show from rehearsals to a performance to its last night on stage. It’s a theater-person’s production anyone can enjoy, director Rodney Farrington said.
Its return to the Lewiston stage comes from demand within the local theater community.
“When we polled our members about shows they would like to see, ‘Noises Off’ was the most requested show,” Lewiston Civic Theatre Executive Director Nancy McIntosh said.
Circa 1982, it was called the “funniest play written in my lifetime” by former New York Times critic Frank Rich, according to a civic theater news release.
The chaotic hilarity that builds as the actors’ personal drama overtakes the production makes for an unforgettable final scene.
“It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse,” Farrington said.
A host of civic theater veterans makes up the cast, including Leilani Farrell as Dotty Otley (played by Carol Burnett in the 1992 film version) and Paul Segren as Lloyd Dallas (played by Michael Caine in the film).
The action takes place on an elaborate two-story set that allows the audience to see the characters both behind the scenes and on stage performing the play inside the play.
“The set is remarkable,” Farrington said, noting civic theater board Vice President Mike Cannon, of My Architect in Lewiston, designed it to rotate and come apart as the script demands. “It’s quite impressive.”
Returning to the civic after a 16-year absence, Farrington said he has enjoyed working with familiar and new faces.
“The talent speaks for itself,” he said. “The talent in the Quad Cities area (of Lewiston, Clarkston, Moscow and Pullman), for as little of an area that we have, is phenomenal.”
Now a professor at Lewis-Clark State College, where he directs the hospitality management program, Farrington said working again alongside the volunteers — from set-builders to light and sound technicians to actors — who make community theater happen was eye-opening.
“For us, as audience members, we just buy that ticket and experience this,” he said.
But the intensity behind the scenes, a reality spoofed to entertaining ends in “Noises Off,” is no joke.
“It can be difficult,” Farrington said. “But it’s worth it in the end.”
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Noises Off,” PG-13.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 16-18 and Feb 23-25; 2 p.m. Feb. 19 and 26.
WHERE: 1114 Ninth Ave., Lewiston. Old Lewiston High School auditorium, Normal Hill Campus.
COST: Tickets, $10-$18, can be purchased at lctheatre.org or by calling (208) 746-3401.
OF NOTE: Raffle tickets for miniature replicas of doorways from the set, created by Rachel Jameton, of Asotin, are $10 each or $25 for three, available to purchase at each show. Winners will be drawn the week after the play closes.