UWFV shows a play within a play in ‘Noise Off’ Off’


Mark Wallenfang

Director Susan Rabideau said the tech team in “Noise Off” was the first team assembled with the capability of pulling off a two-story set.

Joesph Schulz, Regional Editor

The UW-Fox Valley theatre department performed Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” a madcap comedy that featured a play within a play.

The play depicts a cast and crew navigating the wild world of theater as they perform the fictional production “Nothing On.”

The play debuted April 18 at James W. Perry Hall on the UW-Fox Valley campus and had its final showing on April 27.

Director Susan Rabideau said the comedy was the audience’s most requested play, and the production was a huge undertaking because it featured a massive two-story set.

“This was the first time we had a tech team that was capable of pulling it off,” Rabideau said.

She said the set had to spin between acts because act one took place during the play’s dress rehearsal while act two took place backstage on the play’s opening night, and act three is a production toward the end of the show’s run.

“It’s just super heavy, super expensive to build and very difficult because you need all of the doors to open and close properly,” Rabideau said.

Rabideau said “Noises Off” is a story about love triangles and how they can get in the way of a production. The first act everything goes poorly for the characters, the second act focuses on the interpersonal relationships and the third act shows how the play has derailed.

“It’s also sort of about how crazy this world can be and how difficult it is to do all of the things you have to do to get a show out,” Rabideau said.

Set designer James Frelich said he was responsible for collaborating with the creative team to construct the enormous set for the play.

“The best part about being involved with the theater at UW-Fox and specifically this production was being able to see a concept that I helped create with the production team go from paper to stage,” Felich said.

Frelich said the play required him to work a lot of late nights in order to have the set ready for opening night.

“Finishing the building, completing the painting and programming the lighting all seemed to come down to the wire,” Frelich said.

Stage manager Frank Tower said “Noises Off” was a complex show to pull off because of the moving set and the fact that actors had to perform both on and off stage.

“It’s a show I’ve always wanted to stage manage for,” Tower said. “Seeing all that complexity come together with actors and technicians delivering a seamless, hilarious audience experience has been the best part.”

Rabideau said this was the most difficult production she’s been a part of because of the massive set and because actors had to memorize different variations of the same lines for each act of the play.

“With any production it’s getting all of your elements to align, your actors, your costumes, your sets, your technicians,” she said. “It’s sort of like bringing together a family that doesn’t always get along.”

Rabideau said the most rewarding part of this play was seeing the audience come together for a night of laughs.

“I think that’s the beauty of this show is that your rubbing arms with someone you may not agree with politically or religiously, but you can both come together and laugh,” Rabideau said.