UMD play "Noises Off" brings old and new students together

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“Noises Off,” a comedy about a play within a play,  opens Nov. 2 at the Marshall Performing Arts Center’s Mainstage and runs through Nov. 11.

Kate Ufema directed UMD’s 1997 production of the play and will direct it again 20 years later. This year will be different because of an added contemporary twist.

“[Noises Off] is the funniest play I’ve ever seen or done,” Ufema said. “You come out feeling so liberated because there is not much to laugh at these days.”

The British play was written in 1982 by Michael Frayn. It shows the cast of a play both onstage and backstage in their own production. The first act takes place during a rehearsal for this play within a play. The three acts show the cast’s relationships deteriorate hilariously as they perform.

Mathias Anderson, an alumnus of UMD’s theatre program, was brought in to teach the actors some of the stunts and talk to them about his time at UMD. Anderson was cast in the 1997 production of “Noises Off” when he was a student.

“[The cast] is on track for a really great production,” Anderson said. “All the actors have their English dialects down and they sound authentic.”

Anderson remembers his time at UMD fondly, as the place where he got his start in acting.

 Amelia Barr, "Noises Off" cast member. Photo courtesy of Hannah Cornish 

Amelia Barr, "Noises Off" cast member. Photo courtesy of Hannah Cornish 

Amelia Barr is a senior studying musical theatre. Barr is best known for her role as Ariel in UMD’s spring 2017 production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” Barr said that “Noises Off” is different than a lot of the plays she has been in.

“I’ve been in shows with elaborate sets and costumes with a lot of big scenes, but never one this challenging,” Barr said. “The cast we have is a talented group of actors and everyone is pulling their weight.”

Barr said that the small cast instantly clicked while rehearsing for over 20 hours a week.

“We had great chemistry from the start,” Barr said.

 Thomas Henry, "Noises Off" freshman cast member. Photo courtesy of Hannah Cornish 

Thomas Henry, "Noises Off" freshman cast member. Photo courtesy of Hannah Cornish 

Thomas Henry, the lone freshman in the cast, doesn’t find the schedule too difficult to work with.

“It doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy it so much,” Henry said.

“Noises Off” will be Henry’s first production at UMD. He said he is enjoying meeting new people and the cast has been very welcoming.

Henry said he was drawn to UMD partly because of the talents of Ufema. He said the director has helped him a lot in his first semester. His dream is to become a Shakespearean actor and was recommended this program.

“It’s really a time to learn,” Henry said. “We’re not here for a paycheck, we’re here because we love it and we want to get better.”

The cast members said that they were inspired by the visit from the former student, Anderson.

“Mathias is amazing because he came into the program not having a lot of experience and now he is a successful actor. It’s inspiring and encouraging,” Barr said
“It’s the type of play you would want to see multiple times and you’d still catch new things,” Anderson said

. . .

What: "Noises Off"

Where: UMD's Marshall Performing Arts Center Mainstage

When: November 2-4 & 8-11 at 7:30 pm, November 5 at 2:00 pm

Tickets: (218) 726-8561, tickets.umn.edu

CultureHannah Cornish