Jane Curtin will juggle a plate of sardines, a telephone receiver and a handful of other props starting July 16, when she leads the new cast of Broadway's hit farce, Noises Off, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
In Michael Frayn's comic conceit, the audience follows the misfortunes of a fifth-rate British troupe as it rehearses (Act One), performs (Act Two) and destroys (Act Three) a British sex farce called Nothing On. The points of view change during Noises Off, offering a front-of-house rehearsal, a backstage perspective during a performance and another view from the house, several months into the run.
Curtin — famed as an original cast member of "Saturday Night Live," and TV's "Kate and Allie" and "Third Rock From the Sun" — plays Dotty Otley, a faded TV star touring the provinces.
The original cast, led by Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher and Tony Award-winner Katie Finneran, exited July 14 to make way for Curtin, Carson Elrod (as Tim Allgood), Paul Fitzgerald (as Garry Lejeune), Kaitlin Hopkins (as Belinda Blair), John Horton (as Selsdon Mowbray), Byron Jennings (as Frederick Fellowes), Leigh Lawson (as Lloyd Dallas), Kali Rocha (as Brooke Ashton) and Mandy Siegfried (Poppy Norton-Taylor). This slightly revised revival of Michael Frayn's farce began previews Oct. 16, 2001, and opened Nov. 1. Producers are The Ambassador Theatre Group, Ltd., Act Productions, Ltd., Waxman/Williams, USA OSTAR Theatricals, and Nederlander Presentations, Inc. It follows a London revival also directed by Jeremy Sams. The Broadway production has made its investment back, a spokesman confirmed. An opening night for this cast will be announced, with a new set of reviews expected.
Curtin recently appeared in the Westport Country Playhouse production of Our Town. Jennings is a critics favorite, lauded for both his comic and dramatic turns in plays such as Waste, The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Underpants. Rocha—who takes over the dumb blonde role that won Finneran a Tony Award—is well schooled in playing slightly vacuous sexpots. Past credits include The Altruists and The Constant Wife.
Frayn's comedy, still remembered for literally having people laugh themselves out of their seats, had a popular, Tony Award- nominated run on Broadway in the 1983-84 season. It has become a favorite in stock, regional, university and amateur theatres.
Former New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote, "Noises Off was, is, perhaps always will be the funniest play written in my lifetime." A film version starred Carol Burnett.
The first Broadway run of the intensely clever show — which had a Playbill within the Playbill to tell of the hilarious history of the fictional folk putting on Nothing On — also played the Brooks Atkinson. The fictional "programme" for Nothing On will again be found within the genuine Playbill of Noises Off.
Frayn won the 2000 Tony Award for his play, Copenhagen. Noises Off was nominated for a Best Play Tony Award. The original London run of the play spanned 1982-1987. The 1983-84 Broadway staging played 553 performances.
Noises Off designers are Robert Jones (set and costumes), Tim Mitchell (lighting) and Fergus O'Hare (sound). The Brooks Atkinson is at 256 W. 47th Street. Tickets for Noises Off run $30-$75. For information, call (212) 307-4100.
This revival began previews Oct. 16, 2001, and officially opened Nov. 1, 2001.