The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Amy Agostino, Kevin Linkroum and Ashley Hughes in Noises Off. Courtesy photo.

See Noises Off

Where: Amato Center for the Performing Arts, 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford
When: Friday, March 11, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m.; Friday, March 18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $15

Big show
MAP goes all out with Noises Off

By Kelly Sennott

 The Amato Center for the Performing Arts hosted a production of Noises Off about 20 years ago through the American Stage Festival — and coincidentally, Milford High School put it on around that time too — but according to Milford Area Players cast and crew, it hasn’t been seen in town since.

Of course, making Noises Off  happen is no small task. One reason is the gigantic set it requires. Another is the creativity and originality directors often like to play with when producing the show, creating dialogue and jokes that fit within the area it’s performed.
But for theater people especially, it has a kind of cult following, and members of MAP hold nothing back in their take of it this weekend and next at the Amato Center. Designers and builders Tom Morgan and Paul Meltzer have spent the better part of the past month putting it together, filling up weekend and after-work hours nailing boards and configuring the rotating base so it’s safe for actors. 
At 30 feet wide and 8 feet deep, it contains two floors, eight doors, three sets of stairs and a large window. One side highlights the inside of an old-fashioned colonial home, with blue walls and white trim. The other side requires less work, providing a backstage look for the play within Noises Off, called Nothing On. The rotation aspect is the most difficult part of the construction.
“It’s been pretty intensive, trying to get everything to line up and work right,” Morgan said recently, speaking via phone from the theater. “A lot of it is the engineering behind it. … Safety is the primary concern. … But that’s the reason I got involved, because of the fact that it’s a difficult set to do, and it’s so interesting.”
Noises Off was first produced in 1982 by English playwright Michael Frayn, its title taken from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds coming from offstage. It’s a play within a play about how behind-the-scenes drama affects a show. Lines are forgotten, love triangles unravel, and sardines fly everywhere.
The first and third acts depict what audiences see — actors performing in a terrible farce, Nothing On, in which young girls run around in underwear, old men drop their trousers and doors constantly bang open and shut. The first is set during a dress rehearsal and the third happens at the end of the play’s 10-week run. The second act showcases what’s happening backstage during a Wednesday matinee performance a month in.
In this version, directed by Billy Pomerleau, the performers are part of a modern-day New England company struggling with an outdated British farce. There are references to a number of theaters across the region. 
Pomerleau and the actors changed some of the characterization — turning the airhead actress into a more jaded character, the older washed-up director into a younger one with big expectations. He wanted this experience to be so intricate, so unique, he created a special program for audiences. Part of it details the New Hampshire actors as themselves, while an insert tells about the characters within Nothing On. It’s eight pages long, complete with bios and fake advertisements that Pomerleau hopes will make the play funnier and believable.
“It’s a very funny show that people — especially people who have any experience with theater or the stage — can relate to very easily,” Pomerleau said. “I have been in productions with co-stars who are in relationships with other actors in the play. The relationship turns sour, and it actually spells out on the stage. Having seen it first hand, it’s funny to see it played out for real.”

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