Fauquier Community Theatre is presenting the wonderful British comedy, “Noises Off” written by Michael Frayn and directed by Jeff Walker.
“Noises Off” is a Tony Award-winning play that opened on Broadway in 1983. It is full of wonderful slapstick humor. If you have never seen this play, it is a must see. If you have, it is funny no matter how many times you see it. The plot revolves around an acting troupe trying to get through the last days of rehearsals. You get to see the antics of this wide variety of some of the most outrageous characters from both the front and backstage.
Fauquier Community Theatre was first founded in 1978. “FCT enriches, entertains, and educates audiences through a variety of live theatre productions and special programs that enhance the cultural life of the community for all ages. FCT offers a range of challenging creative opportunities that inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in theatre. FCT cultivates an appreciation of the performing arts, educates through experience, participates in community activities, and partners with other arts and community groups.”
The director of Fauquier Community Theatre’s production of “Noises Off” is Jeff Walker who has directed more than 40 productions in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area. New to FCT, Walker was seen in FCT’s virtual productions in the lead roles of Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”and Kellin in the comedy “Bad Auditions on Camera.”
Walker is a theater teacher and director at Edison High School in Fairfax County. He previously was the theatre arts director and the Division Fine Arts Coordinator for public schools in Culpeper. Walker was also a part-time theatre journalist and critic, most recently as a contributor to DC Theatre Scene and Broadway World.
Prior to a career in education, Walker was active as an actor and director in community and professional theaters in Virginia. Walker said, “Having directed “Noises Off” before, about 25 years ago, and being one of my favorite plays ever, I was aware of how vital comic timing—business, lines, maneuvering the set—is for this show.”
Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I am a native son of Virginia, born and raised in the Roanoke and Salem region. I began doing theatre in high school and studied theatre at Roanoke College. I got additional training at the National Shakespeare Conservatory and began my career as a young actor at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. Years later, here we are.
Which of the plays you have directed, other than “Noises Off,” is your favorite?
That’s a tough one, after directing many plays and musicals in community theatre and as a theatre teacher. But today if I had to pick my top five so far, I would say “Death of a Salesman,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies,” “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” and “The Laramie Project.” “Noises Off” holds a special place, however. This is my second time directing this show and both productions—about 27 years apart—are tops.
Would you rather act or direct?
I would say that it depends on the show. There are shows I wanted to be in or want to be in in the future, like “Lend Me a Tenor,” “1776,” or “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and there are those I would like to tackle as a director. “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Something Rotten,” and “The Play That Goes Wrong” come to mind. I really like to switch back and forth between acting and directing if my schedule allows.
Can you tell us what you enjoy most about teaching theater?
I love introducing students to a variety of theatre titles and experiences. During their four years in my program, I would like my students to experience a classic (Shakespeare), modern pieces (“The Laramie Project”), a Golden Age musical (like “Cinderella”) and a more up to date piece (“Legally Blonde”). I also strive to give students ownership over their creativity. I have encouraged student writers, composers and directors to challenge themselves.
Is there a show or play that you would like to have a chance to direct that you haven’t done yet?
One of the dream musicals I would love to direct, with a strong choreographer, is “Cats” because I have a very clear vision for how to do that show in an intimate space. As for non-musicals, I have wanted to try my hand at Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth,” a play that is timelier now than ever.
“Noises Off’ will be performed at the Vint Hill Theater on the Green, 4225 Aiken Drive, Warrenton, Virginia 20187 on Friday, March 25 and Saturday March 26 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 27 at 2:00 pm. For information about Fauquier Community Theatre, including their Covid Policy and for tickets, go to their website. Hurry as this will be their last weekend!