Modern, Comic Masterpiece “Noises Off” at Towngate Theatre

"Noises Off" at Towngate Theater

Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre, the Ohio Valley’s leading community theater, opens its 2017-18 season with the sidesplitting farce “Noises Off.”

It will be staged September 22, 23, 24, 29 & 30.

Considered the funniest farce ever written, “Noises Off” is a slapstick play within a play. Michael Frayn’s brilliantly crafted script offers a backstage look at a hapless troupe of actors as they attempt to stage a dreadful comedy called “Nothing On.” Backstage and onstage chaos ensues. Characters forget lines, swill whiskey, miss cues and fumble with props as their sanity slowly unravels.

“Noises Off” was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and has been keeping audiences rolling in the aisles since its debut in 1982.   Oglebay Institute director of performing arts Tim Thompson said Towngate is happy to bring the community a well-deserved night of laughter.

“Sometimes there is no better treat than to spend an evening laughing for two hours straight. And that is what audiences will experience with this show,” he said. “It is a chance to forget about personal stresses and troubles in the world, if even for only a short time.”

A Great Cast Will Make You Laugh

Community theater veteran John Reilly directs Towngate’s production of “Noises Off” and has assembled a cast of remarkable local actors who bring this uproarious comedy to life through their hilarious portrayals.

Cast members are: Kim Brown, Vera-Barton Maxwell, Josh DeBeni, Eric T. Dutton, Dee Gregg, Vincent Marshall, Meghan Ross, Brendan Sheehan and Frank Wilson.

“I do not believe I have ever worked with a cast so hard working and dedicated to a production. Each is creative and imaginative; each of them is a problem-solver. What I have had to do is to fine-tune what they come up with—clarify, emphasize the funny bits. Each of them has a wonderful sense of a commitment to communicating with joy the absurd in life,” Reilly said.

“What’s all the more remarkable is that most of them have “real-life” jobs that are time-consuming and stressful. Farces are exhausting and ‘sweaty’ endeavors. And this group gives and gives and gives. Remarkable. And the design and technical staff at Towngate has been equally creative and supportive. A genuine pleasure to work with.”

Comedy and Farce Reflect Our Humanity

While it is mainly a farcical comedy, theatergoers can see more than just laughs in “Noises Off.”

“Some people see farces as just silly—as fun or just worthless. But everything that genuinely entertains us has truth in it—otherwise it has no worth. Every farce deals with people trapped in a machine going awry into chaos and we watch their desperate attempts at trying to maintain some kind of order. A metaphor for life,” Reilly explained.

“In Act One, the director reins them in and gives them guidance. During Act Two, they are performing the same scene, but the director is now embroiled in their lives and has no control. In Act Three, still performing the same scene, they are lost in their personal issues and the director has the least clue as to how to fix it. If one wanted to, one could see it as an image of what happens to life when it loses its shaping force (God?), its unifying principle—when ‘the center cannot hold’—anarchy is loosed upon the world. And the audience laughs because they’re on the outside looking in and sees how absurd humans can be.”

Towngate Offers Something for Everyone

Towngate is the premiere venue for community theater in Wheeling, providing an intimate theater experience with talented local actors performing in a variety of though-provoking, heartwarming, comedic and historically significant works from renowned playwrights and talented newcomers.

Thompson encourages everyone to check out a show at Towngate. And gives special encouragement to those who have never experienced community theater before.

“When watching a stage production, you are transported into a different world. You can escape from reality and feel the energy created by sharing an intimate space with actors and fellow theatergoers.  Live action happens right before your eyes. And there’s no app for that,” he said.

He added that theater is a social experience meant to be shared with one another.

“So, bring your family and friends and meet new friends, too. Most importantly, support your local actors, directors, stage managers, set and costume designers. They spend months working to bring characters and stories to life. You’ll be impressed.”

A church-turned-theater, located in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market District, Towngate serves as an entertainment destination for residents of Wheeling, the Upper Ohio Valley and beyond.  In addition to community theater, Towngate also offers poetry and spoken word performances, children’s theater, ballet, improvisational comedy and live music.  Towngate is also home to the Wheeling Film Society and features changing art exhibitions in The Gallery at Towngate. Children and adults can enroll in theater classes year-round.

Get Tickets

Evening performances of “Noises Off” take place at 8 p.m. September 22, 23, 29 & 30. A matinee performance takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 24.

Purchase tickets for this show or any Towngate show in advance at, by calling 304-242-7700, or at the door, if available.

Thank You to Our Sponsor

Shaeffer & Madama, Inc. sponsor this production of “Noises Off.”  Corporate and individual philanthropy enable Oglebay Institute to present hundreds of arts, nature and history programs each year.  For information on sponsorship opportunities, call 304-242-4200.