Almanac

Schools - February 2, 2011

Two casts perform 'Noises Off' at Menlo

by Kate Daly

Menlo School does a double-take on the British farce, "Noises Off" by Michael Frayn, by putting on the play with two alternating casts.

With two people directing two separate casts, the shows should be different, but then again that means "twice the fun and twice the laughs," according to Upper School Drama teacher Beth Orr.

The cast she is directing will appear on opening night, Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m.; on Friday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m., and at a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Feb. 12.

The cast led by head football coach and U.S. history teacher Mark Newton will perform Feb. 10 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13. A final show at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 will feature a "mixed cast."

Ms. Orr said she wanted to double-cast the play to increase the number of students involved. She turned to her colleague, Mr. Newton, for help, because he was a professional actor in New York and Los Angeles, doing plays, TV shows and movies before he retired at age 29.

Mr. Newton had gone to Menlo and played football through college. He decided to move back to the area and work at his alma mater, where he is now in his seventh year of coaching and teaching.

He is also the sophomore dean and works as an associate in the admissions office. Ms. Orr cast him to act in several of her plays, but this is Mr. Newton's directorial debut.

"It's been fun to jump back into comedy and to be on the other side," he said.

"`Noises Off" is a play within a play, set in contemporary times.

"The writer captures the antics of putting on a production, the chaos where what can go wrong does go wrong," Mr. Newton said. "There's a lot of physical comedy in it," he added, describing the slapstick humor as "high farce" where he has the kids "doing big and extreme character work."

The shows will be staged at Florence Moore Theatre at 50 Valparaiso Ave. in Atherton. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for adults, with discounts for seniors. Donations will be accepted for admission to the last show.

Tickets may be purchased at the Menlo campus bookstore, by e-mail at tickets@Menloschool.org, or at the door. For more information call 330-2001, ext. 2333.

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