• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Noises Off! returns to Woodford Theatre – 10 years later


MELISSA RAE WILKESON returns to the Woodford Theatre stage for “Noises Off!” The Versailles actor was also onstage for a Woodford Theatre production of the Michael Frayn comedy in 2008, which was directed by Beth Kirchner. (File photo by Bob Vlach)

It’s been a decade since Melissa Rae Wilkeson portrayed Poppy in Woodford Theatre’s “Noises Off!” And she’s just as excited about returning to her hometown stage to portray Dotty in a new production of Michael Frayn’s comedy, which opens Friday.

“It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, let alone been in,” says Wilkeson. And because she gets to play a different character, “it’s a whole new set of challenges.”

The Versailles actor describes the role of Dotty as being more challenging than her “Noises Off!” role of 10 years ago.

Because of the comedy’s physical humor with lots of doors slamming and mistaken identity, “it’s kind of exhausting, but it’s fun,” she says.

“And the group that we have together – it’s just a wonderful group of people to work with.”

Wilkeson has not worked alongside anyone in this ensemble, but did share the stage – and her first stage kiss – with their director, Michael Camenisch.

He and Wilkeson were both students in their early-20s at the University of Kentucky “and her talent was quite obvious,” he says.

So when Camenisch was given an opportunity to make his directorial debut at Woodford Theatre with “Noises Off!” – a comedy he experienced onstage at UK – he immediately thought of Wilkeson.

She was the right actor to play Dotty, whom he describes as “the grand dame of this theatre company that’s putting on this play ‘Nothing On.’”

While acknowledging he’s definitely biased, Camenisch, who has seen many productions of this stage farce, says, “This is my favorite (production of “Noises Off!”). The comedy chops of (our entire cast) is really, really top-notch.” He says every actor in this ensemble “is totally right for their part.”

Woodford Theatre audiences will witness the off-stage chaos affecting an onstage performance in this exaggerated behind-the-scenes peek of producing a play in “Noises Off!”

“It’s pretty amazing to watch – just on a technical level,” says Camenisch. “But it’s extraordinarily funny. And that’s the point.”

Now, he and his cast are looking forward to having an audience. They will bring the laughter and energy that’s missing from rehearsals.

“We’ve been ready for an audience for about a week,” says Wilkeson. “We’re almost aching for an audience because we don’t have that exchange.”

Performances of “Noises Off!” begin this weekend, March 23 to 25, and continue through April 5 to 8. Friday and Saturday night performances begin at 8.Sunday matinees (no show on Easter, April 1) begin at 2. Special Thursday performances on March 29 and April 5 begin at 7:30 p.m.

For tickets ($22 for adults and $15 for students), call the Woodford Theatre box office at 873-0648 or visit woodfordtheatre.com.

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