Everything’s Coming up Sardines: What Happens in the Rehearsal Room?

If this is your first time here, welcome. If this is your second time here, I can’t believe you came back! Today you lucky ducks are going to get a sneak peak into the rehearsal room of Noises Off. You’ll get a firsthand look at what it takes to put up this ridiculously complicated show and the hilarious hijinks that ensue behind the scenes. 

 

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning...

Rehearsal usually begins with the 9 cast members being warmed up by the director, Laurie. The warm-ups are all about energizing and unifying the cast, and each actor does the exercises in their individual accent that they have learned for the show. The warm-ups can range from silly to outright ridiculous, but when in Rome. I sincerely wish I could give you a peek of these hoity-toity accented-actors saying nonsense and moving about in strange ways, because it is truly a sight to behold. 

 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred props

 Noises Off has an absolutely staggering amount of props. When rehearsing the infamous Act II (dun dun dunnn!), props are flying faster than a seeker in a Slytherin-Gryffindor quidditch match. There are many comedic bits-as dictated by the script-where the characters are unable to remember where they left their props. The truly ironic thing is that many times the actors themselves are in the exact same boat! So, it creates this play-reality crossover of the characters being confused and the actors being even more confused. If you were confused by that, come see the show! Shameless promotion, you say? Eh, it’s just my job. But back to the props. With so many moving parts, it is a wonder that anyone remembers anything at all. Currently, placeholders have been put in to represent all props. Some rehearsals a pillowcase was used as a dress, a candle as a bottle of whisky, and a container of disinfecting wipes as a cactus. 

 

Set-Maker, Set-Maker Make Me a Set 

Since we are a few weeks out from opening night, the set-designed by Graham Whipple-is still being constructed by our hard-working scene shop employees and students. The set is two stories high, has 8 doors, and 3 sets of stairs. Can you imagine trying to rehearse a show that is so dependent on the set...without the set? Well, as they say in the biz: the show must go on! There is one rehearsal door on wheels and it is doubles...er, triples...er, it is used as all of the doors at one point. Watching the rehearsal can also be a bit confusing since it can be difficult to tell-since they are practicing in a single room-whether the actors are standing on the ground level or where the second floor of the set will be! It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin (and I have simply witnessed it all at a very safe distance seated comfortably in my chair.) 

 

Don’t Cry for Them, Orem UT

All in all, the actors will have had not quite six weeks of rehearsal by the time the show opens (Friday, February 28th, if you’re curious. Tickets available now). A relatively short time, but still manageable you say? Indeed. But perhaps you have forgotten what show we are speaking of. We’ve got a play within a play. A play that happens not once, not twice, but three times. We have lines that are very similar but not quite the same from act to act. We have things that go wrong in one act, and then go even wrong-er in the next! The actors must remember their lines, remember where they go and when, and remember the small nuances and changes that shift in every act. This show is simultaneously an actor’s worst nightmare and their dream show. Part of the beauty of this show is not just in the comedic gold that you will witness, but in thinking about the intense hours and work that have gone into the production!

 

All in all, this show has a seemingly infinite amount of props, too many kisses, 8 slamming doors...and a partridge in a pear tree. Everything but the kitchen sink!

On a slightly more serious note (though I promise it won’t last long): despite the sheer madness that this show brings about, it also creates an incredibly focused atmosphere. In a show where everything goes a mile a minute, the actors must trust and rely on one another. So, please take a night out of your busy life and come support the work of the talented actors, the marvelous designers, and everyone else involved. You won’t regret it. Cheers!