UHS Drama Department Prepares for Two Fall Productions


The in-progress set for “Noises Off”.

Lilliana Resnik

The first few months of school are often busy times for students. There are new schedules, new clubs, and sports seasons. But for those in the drama department, it’s time for the fall mainstage production-one of their three big undertakings of the school year. This year, there are two plays being produced- “Bad Ideas For Bad Television Shows”, a one-act by Don Zolidis, and Noises Off, a comedic farce by Michael Frayn. The former, described by Playscripts, Inc. is “a zany, satirical take on contemporary entertainment” follows two desperate NBC executives who, out of inspiration, ask the public for ideas for new TV shows-with hilarious results. Noises Off, which Samuel French, Inc. describes as a “classically comic play” is a show about putting on a show and all of the mishaps involved. Director Stephen Ward decided to mount two productions in order to “feature more individuals”, as Noises Off has a very small cast. Students have been working extremely hard, and Mr. Ward proudly says the cast works “like a well-oiled machine.”

This undertaking differs from most of Urbana High School’s (UHS) previous mainstage productions in a number of ways. Mr. Ward is directing “Noises Off”, while two senior drama students, Jarrod Celeste and Rita Scott, direct “Bad Ideas”. Mr. Ward calls his student directors “the definition of leadership”. The set is also something to behold-a functioning two-story structure complete with seven constantly-slamming doors. This set will also have to rotate 180 degrees between acts-a feat that will take the combined stage crews of both shows to accomplish. The shows also must split stage time during rehearsals, a change that both casts had to acclimate to. Mr. Ward states that it has been imperative to “find a balance and share the stage and rehearsal space.”  However, the fact that there are challenges does not diminish the work that has been put in so far. Both cast and crew have made great strides so far.

The students involved have so far felt this same sense of both challenge and accomplishment. Junior Shannon Sinnicki, the stage manager for “Bad Ideas..” describes the proceedings as “hectic”, a sentiment echoed my numerous others, cast and crew alike.  As stage manager, Sinnicki’s duties include scenery blocking, collecting props, and directing her crew in transitions of set pieces. Isabella Slyman, who is the female swing in Noises Off, has called the rehearsal process “tedious-but it’s really coming along.” She is uniquely positioned that, as a swing, she could play multiple roles if other actors are unavailable. Slyman, who appeared in last spring’s Footloose, said that the current show is much more “physical” than her previous acting experiences. She also echoes other students  in describing the show as more “focused on actors.” Freshman Ella Allen, who plays multiple roles in the one-act, has “really enjoyed [the process] so far.” She has loved getting to know the upperclassmen, especially junior and fellow cast member Madison Broderick, whom she calls “inspirational.” This bonding spirit manifests itself in the rehearsal room and beyond; Mr. Ward says he “finds this ensemble of kids to be phenomenal.” By opening night, the drama students will surely be ready to “break a leg.”

Noises Off and “Bad Ideas for Bad Television Shows” performances are November 8 (7 pm), 9th (7 pm), and 10th (1 PM & 7 PM). Tickets can be purchased at showtix4u.com