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Oak Ridge students hit boards in play within a play

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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EL DORADO HILLS, CA - It’s a play within a play and it’s playing at Oak Ridge High School starting March 14.

“Noises Off” by Michael Frayn follows the on- and off-stage antics of an acting troupe as they stumble from bumbling dress rehearsal to disastrous closing night.

Janet Henke, the school’s theater instructor, said when the play opens its opening night with the director in the audience.

“Everything that could go wrong does,” she said.

Written in 1982 by British playwright Michael Frayn, “Noises Off” was partly inspired by Frayne’s experiences with one of his earlier farces, “Chinamen.” He reportedly once commented that during a performance of that play, the chaos behind the scenes was often more entertaining than the action on stage.

Jonathan Gobel, 17, a junior at Oakridge and a first year drama student, plays the part of the director, Lloyd Dallas.

He said he doesn’t mind all the rehearsal and time it takes to put on a production.

“I really like it,” Gobel said. “We have rehearsed about 25 hours so far.”

Most teens can’t remember to take out the garbage, so how do they remember all those lines?

“It’s pretty easy. This is fun and doesn’t feel like work, because it’s fun,” he said.

Katelin Tanda, 17 and also a junior, has been involved with the drama group for three years. She plays the part of “Poppy, a shrinking violet who has her eye on the director.

“She’s in love with the director, but he wants nothing to do with her,” Tanda said. “He’s in love with someone else.”

Tanda said she joined drama initially as an elective course because it sounded “interesting.”

“Being quiet and shy I sort of found the stage as my way to open up,” she said. “This was a good way for me to express myself.”

She will be doing just that in the coming weeks with several performances of “Noises Off.”

The set for this farce is complex, but essential to the plot with two stories. Portions of the set, built by two Oak Ridge alumni, Kate and Luke Rolls, revolve.

“Kate and Luke are amazing,” Henke said. “I don’t know how I’d do this without them.”

“Noises Off” opens in the Oak Ridge High School Theatre at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14 with other performances at 7 p.m. on March, 15, 16 and April 4, 5, 6 and matinees at 2 p.m. on March 16, 17 and April 6 and 7. Tickets may be purchased by calling: (916) 390- 3727, or www.brownpapertickets.com