It was likely the longest intermission in the history of theater. The Long Beach Playhouse is set to bring its production of Noises Off, back to the stage after an 18-month break.
Long Beach Playhouse had opened the show on Feb. 22 of 2020, By March 12, they were forced to cut the run short, despite rave reviews, as the city and the rest of the world began to shut their doors and shelter in place. With nearly all of the original cast members available to return, LBP is set to reopen the classic comedy on Sept. 11, for a five-weekend run.
Director Gregory Cohen admits that after such a long layoff, he was hesitant to reboot the show. He feared they would not be able to capture the same magic they had in the first run. That changed when he found out eight of the nine original cast members were available and eager to do it again.
“When the opportunity arose, however, and I found out that we would be able to bring back 8 of the original 9 cast members, I jumped at the chance,” Cohen said.
What began as a one-act show in 1977, has evolved over the years into its full-length form. Michael Frayn, the playwright continued to refine the script through several runs, including during its move to Broadway in the early ‘80s.
That flexibility in the script has allowed for changes, updates or customizing of the show depending on the cast and direction. Cohen said they have even looked at ways to improve their production from the first run.
“We’ve changed things, we’ve improved things,” Cohen said. “I’d like to think we’re bringing a more inventive, more energetic, and ultimately a much funnier show than we enjoyed so much in 2020.”
Noises Off has continued to entertain with its farcical portrayal of a cast of actors stumbling through a stage play, entitled Nothing On. During its Broadway run it was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 1984. It won the Olivier Award for Best Play in 1982. It presents particular challenges for a venue like LBP, which has a thrust stage and audience seating on three sides of the performers. The script works more naturally on a traditional stage. But LBP was able to make it work the first time.
“Audiences were loving it and we all had a blast creating it,” Cohen said.
Cohen is a veteran director who has directed 30 plays for LBP, including Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods and My Fair Lady. With opening night just a week away, LBP Executive Director Madison Mooney said they are thrilled that it worked out that this show, which abruptly closed the theater, will re-open the playhouse to its audience.
“I think it’s the perfect way to welcome back our audiences and volunteers. A big comedy like ‘Noises Off’ with too many laughs to count should brighten everyone’s spirits up for an evening,” Mooney said.
The cast includes:
Andrea Stradling as Dotty Otley
Eric Schiffer also returns as Lloyd Dallas
John Vann as Garry Lejeune
Amara Phelps as Brooke Ashton
Travis Wade as Frederick Fellowes
Adanna Kenlow as Belinda Blair
Lewis Leighton as Selsdon Mowbray
Lyndsay Palmer as Poppy Norton-Taylor
PJ Cimacio as Tim Allgood
For show and ticket information call 562-494-1014, option 1, or visit lbplayhouse.org.