PEMBROKE — A new batch of professional actors have temporarily entrenched themselves at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus for the production of the play “Noises Off!”
The play will take the Givens Performing Art Center stage on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. each day.
This production will be the third artist-in-residency production included as part of the GPAC season. During the artist-in-residency production, professional actors worked with UNCP students for more than a month to rehearse the play. The program offers students a learning opportunity by letting them work side-by-side with working professionals.
This year’s professionals include Carolyn Kegel, Olivia von Opel, Noah Yaconelli and Jay Reum. They will be working and performing with Jonathan Drajos, the play’s director and director of the university’s theater program; local actress Carolanne Morano; and Eric Voecks, lighting and projections designer for GPAC. The two student actors in the show are Jamonte Madison and Chelsea Williams. Madison is a senior theater major who is returning to the GPAC stage for his eighth production. Chelsea Williams, who plays Poppy Norton Taylor, is a sophomore at UNCP. “Noises Off!” will be her first main stage role.
Michael Frayn’s 1982 classic follows a group of actors as they rehearse a play titled “Nothing On.” The play seems to be doomed before its first performance because of actors who forget their lines, a love triangle, missing props and other mishaps. The audience gets to see the hilarious pandemonium unfold backstage.
“I am so grateful to be able to direct what is now considered to be a classic comedic masterpiece,” Drahos said. “The play is rigorous physically and our cast, a mix of professional New York actors and UNCP students, are collaborative and innovative. I continue to be inspired by their creative energies.”
Drajos also has directed “Strike at the Wind!” and “The Three Musketeers” and “Romeo and Juliet,” both of which have hosted artists-in-residence.
“As a performing arts center, we are unique in that we are also on a university campus,” said James Bass, director of GPAC and play producer. “This program gives our students the opportunity to network with professionals from a major entertainment market as they work together to create a quality, big stage show.”
Kegel, 24, a rising young actor herself, was able to give UNCP’s theater students a first-hand account of her experiences after college and working in the professional theater world. For the past six months her work has included voice-overs and a part in the all-female production of “Troiles and Cressida.”
“A lot of those things you can’t learn in college,” Kegel said. “This is a program I wish I had as a young college student.”
The New York-based actress received her master’s degree in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. The New Hampshire native also studied History at Columbia University, with an undergraduate semester abroad at the London Academy. Her fascination with history has fueled her acting via a passion for stories and storytelling.
This is not Kegel’s first time performing in “Noises Off!” but this is her first time playing the role of Belinda Blair, and as a professional actress.
“This is the show that confirmed that I wanted to be an actor,” Kegel said. “It’s very technical but it’s just so enjoyable.”
Kegel said what makes the play more difficult is the physicality required.
“You’re really playing two characters,” she said. “It’s a play about a play.”
Tickets are $21 and $16 for adults, and $5 for children and students. Students at UNCP get in for $2 when they present an ID card.
“Noises Off!” is one of several performances that is being held in conjunction with the Act I Diner’s Club. Themed meals will be available for an extra charge and will be served before performances in GPAC. Tickets are sold separately at the GPAC Box Office. The show is sponsored by McDonald’s-Rust Enterprises.
For information about tickets and the full season lineup, visit www.uncp.edu/gpac or call 910-521-6361.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.