The Whole Backstage Community Theatre, with the generosity of season sponsor Sonny Lewis, will present the classic British farce, Noises Off! for its final weekend. Performances will be October 31, and November 1, 2, at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinee November 3 at 2 p.m., with Whole Backstage veteran director, Johnny Brewer.
“Noises Off! is a unique work that is a play within a play, written and set in 1982 by English playwright Michael Frayn. The action begins on a two-story, revolving set with the troupe in its final dress rehearsal for what seems to be a potential flop, Nothing’s On. The seasoned director and his company of mediocre actors face dilemmas onstage intertwined with predicaments offstage, while all experience exhaustion as they work on their final preparations to open their show the next evening,” Brewer described.
The cast in this current production of Noises Off! is certainly a special group. Just about all have worked with Brewer in the past, either at Snead College or the Whole Backstage.
“At the onset, to make rehearsals and the process more productive and successful, we talk about certain values, like teamwork, the value of self, encouraging the inner spirit that makes people want to do their best, importance of others, and most of all, commitment,” Brewer said.
“This was a great opportunity to revive Noises Off!. We all work well together, we know what to expect from each other, and we know how to encourage each other. Five of the nine actors were my theatre scholarship students at Snead College: Christopher Carter, April Russell, John Everett Brewer, Garrett Gamble, and Danni Boles. In addition to my scholarship students, others in this cast of Noises Off! played notable roles in numerous Snead College productions, Hannah Yost and Kayla Harper,” Brewer said.
“Hannah Yost portrayed The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol, a dancer in The Fabulous Fifties, The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Camelot, and in many other shows, while attending Snead on a dance line scholarship. Also at Snead Theatre, Kayla Harper portrayed Glinda the Good Witch in Wizard of Oz, was a soloist and performer in The Fabulous Fifties show; and at the WBS, Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and now portrays Brook Ashton in Noises Off!,” Brewer added.
“During their theatre studies with me at Snead College, Christopher Carter, and John Everett Brewer were each awarded the prestigious Irene B. Ryan Award that provides recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers,” Brewer said.
Christopher K. Carter began his theatre career in 1994 as Mr. Bundles in the WBS production of Annie, and continued with some unforgettable roles including Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Judd in Oklahoma!, the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz, and now portrays Selsdon Mowbray in Noises Off!.
On a personal note, Carter said, “The thing I love most about Johnny is that he meets you halfway. He knows what he wants and has a very clear picture of what he wants, but he also appreciates others’ input and their talent. He is so giving as a director.”
April Russell played the stepmother in Cinderella, The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol, and various other roles at Snead Theatre. She later joined the Whole Backstage as an actor in the 2007 Noises Off!, then as a director for Schoolhouse Rock, and now plays Dotty Otley in Noises Off!.
John Everett Brewer began his theatre career at the age of two, with his father Johnny Brewer as director. First, he played numerous children, followed by some of his notable roles: the Mayor of Munchkin City in Wizard of Oz, Tommy Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Young Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, Kurt von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, The Fabulous Fifties show, directed and starred in two productions of Greater Tuna, Lancelot in Camelot, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, twice played the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz, twice played Charley’s Aunt in Charley’s Aunt, and is now reprising his role as director Lloyd Dallas in Noises Off!
Garrett Gamble and Danni Boles were in the last class of theatre scholarship students with director Brewer at Snead State, and both are DAR High School graduates.
Denton Gillen became involved at the WBS as a child. After college, he returned to the stage as a soloist and performer in Black Tie Broadway, The Fabulous Fifties, Black Tie America, Charley Wykeham in Charley’s Aunt, and is now portraying the role of Tim Allgood in Noises Off!
Chandler Tarvin is a relative newcomer to the WBS with several roles to his credit.
Other former college students of Brewer include Tony Wildfong, stage manager, and crew members Emily Giles, Kevin Russell, Katy Chumley, and Drew Hunter, who were in his speech classes. The Noises Off! production staff of Jan Price, Dana Thomas, Rodger King, Greg Leach, and Katherine Brewer have all worked and/or performed in shows under Brewer’s direction for decades.
There will be a soup supper one-hour prior to performances on Thursday, October 31, and the Sunday matinee November 3 of Noises Off!. Various soups, cornbread, tea, and desserts will be served in the reception room at the theatre for this special fundraising benefit. All proceeds of the $5 donation will go to the purchase and installation of a projector in the auditorium.
General admission tickets are currently on sale for Noises Off! with prices: $12 for student tickets, $18 for senior adults, and $20 for an adult ticket. True to the script, this stage production contains mature comedic themes and innuendos. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 256-582-7469, or visit the office during business hours at 1120 Rayburn Avenue/Dot Moore Way in Guntersville; or view the website: www.wholebackstage.com; or the WBS on Facebook.