Super Summer Theatre just wrapped a stellar production of the Broadway classic Chicago, co-produced by Majestic Repertory Theatre, and SST is already preparing for a new show at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Up next: the classic 1982 farce Noises Off, co-produced by local theater company Poor Richard’s Players. We spoke with directors Maxim Lardent and Benjamin Loewy about the Michael Frayn-authored play-within-a-play, the duo’s last show before they debut their new playhouse in October.
What drew you to this script?
BL: Max and I have wanted to do Noises Off for years. I’ve wanted to do it since I was a teen—we saw a production of it at the Utah Shakespeare Festival nine or 10 years ago, and that was about the time that we founded Poor Richard’s Players. It’s just been a longtime dream of ours. It’s such a big show, you can’t just do it anywhere. We’ve been pitching it to Super Summer Theatre year after year, so we’re super-excited about it.
MF: It’s about a fledgling acting troupe who are putting on a British farce, but they only have two weeks to rehearse and they’re understaffed.
BL: This show is very much the inspiration for the popular show The Play That Goes Wrong. It’s a comedy where nothing goes right, but more than just technically—we’re talking about interpersonal relationships that fall apart. So not only do these actors have no idea what they’re doing, they also have to deal with each other.
What can people expect if they’ve never seen the show before?
MF: Nonsense, hysteria, craziness, but mostly a lot of fun and a lot of laughter—and honestly, a lot of heart. You really do grow to love these characters, watching them from their last rehearsal all the way through their last performance. Theater people will enjoy it on another level, but it’s absolutely relatable to everyone.
How is Poor Richard’s Players putting its stamp on the play?
BL: Normally we have a very specific brand in how we do theater, and that is in the way we tell stories. Our mission statement used to be “Challenge the artist, challenge the audience,” and that was in order to create a conversation between the performers and the viewers. In creating our playhouse, we’ve since changed our statement to just “Challenge each other.” … It’s a communal experience where our responsibility is shared with the audience. You have to participate in actively watching. Noises Off is such a specific show, so there’s not a lot of room for interpretation. But what I will say is, we have such an incredible cast of comedic actors, and we have utilized their skill set. We have squeezed every ounce out of them to make it more of a visceral experience.
NOISES OFF September 5-7, 11-14, 19-21, 7 p.m., $15. Super Summer Theatre, supersummertheatre.org.