Mass Music & Arts Society (MMAS) Black Box Theater present “Noises Off”

I have been an actor for over twenty years now and I always say that the drama backstage is so much more entertaining than the drama on onstage. Many have tried to capture this but few have succeeded as much as Michael Frayn with his 1982 play, “Noises Off.” This show has been a big hit since and it was even adapted as a film starring Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine and Carol Burnett.

Sara Norton as Brooke/Vicki, Kacee Rimer as Poppy, Chris March as Garry/Roger and Beth Morell as Dotty/Mrs. Clackett

“Noises Off” is a play-within-a-play. We, the audience, are actually watching rehearsals and performances of the play “Nothing On,” directed by Mr. Lloyd Dallas.  Frayn gives us all of the usual suspects and as anyone in theater knows, these characters do, in fact, exist in real life, though you may not always find them in the same production as is the case here. Frayn also takes us backstage – literally – in Act 2. Director Dori Bryan-Ployer has done an exceptional job casting her actors, all of whom take on their roles like a second skin.  Speaking of the group she cast out of the numbers that showed up to audition, Dori says, “The whole group is very unified. I think that shows onstage.”

Beth Morell as Dotty/Mrs. Clackett

Beth Morrell plays Dotty (whose character is playing Mrs. Clackett). Dotty is the top billed star and a major investor in this show and though a veteran actor, has trouble memorizing. Beth does this so naturally that I forgot I was watching her in a play in a play! I kid you not. Beth says this is the second time she has played Dotty/Mrs. Clackett. “Noises Off is truly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever been involved in. It is an ensemble show that requires a great team of actors and technical staff.  This MMAS production is one that I am very proud to be a part of.”

Christian Roulleau as Lloyd

Christian Roulleau plays Lloyd Dallas, the frustrated, philandering director.  Christian does an amazing job making this character somewhat likeable, even though he is obviously not the greatest guy.

Sara Norton as Brooke/Vicki and Chris March as Garry/Roger

Chris March plays Garry (whose character is playing Roger). The lead of the show, although he cannot quite finish a sentence unless it is written dialogue he can memorize. Chris’ performance is effortless which is not an easy task with this character. Chris says that after watching the film years ago he knew he had to do it. “…it was during the Act 2 sequence in the film because it was just like, ‘Oh this is brilliant!’ because the whole joke is that all this craziness is going on backstage but they’re still making their cues, I mean, for the most part…and to pull that off onstage, that would be brilliant. I would love to be part of that theatrical pit crew that just does it to the best of their ability…”

Sara Norton plays Brooke (whose character is playing Vicki), the ingénue, who got this job for reasons clearly not having anything to do with talent.  It is not easy to play an actor who can’t act but Sara nails it with her delivery of each line accompanied by her over-emphasised indications.

Christian Roulleau as Lloyd, Kacee Rimer as Poppy and Jackie Fashjian as Belinda/Flavia

Kacee Rimer plays Poppy, the overwhelmed assistant stage manager who gets a bit emotional though with good reason. Kacee’s performance is subtle yet very real.  

Michael Herschberg as Frederick/Philip

Michael Herschberg plays Frederick (whose character is playing Philip). Not the brightest bulb and never too sure of himself, constantly asking Lloyd for the motivation of his character behind even the smallest bit of business. According to Dori, Herschberg loves doing physical comedy and I can see why. He is very good at it. It is hard to take your eyes off of him even when he isn’t speaking because his physicality and expressions are so entertaining.

Michael Herschberg as Frederick/Philip and Jackie Fashjian as Belinda/Flavia

Jackie Fashjian plays Belinda (whose character is playing Flavia). Jackie is delightfully natural as the “Mom” of the group who looks after everyone and is especially protective of Frederick.

Mike Whalen as Tim and Christian Roulleau as Lloyd

Mike Whalen plays Tim, the overworked, exhausted, and abused stage manager/set builder (among other things). Whalen pops in and out, stealing scenes with every entrance.

Michael Herschberg as Frederick/Philip and Justin Grankewicz as Selsdon/Burglar

Justin Grankewicz plays Selsdon (whose character is playing a Burglar), a likeable old drunk who is practically deaf. Justin does a wonderfully unpredictable job as Selsdon, playing against type here as the character is written for a much older actor and I am told by Chris that he is actually the youngest in the cast!

Jackie Flashjian as Belinda/Flavia, Michael Herschberg as Frederick/Philip, Chris March as Garry/Roger, Justin Grankewicz as Selsdon/Burglar and Sara Norton as Brooke/Vicki

“Noises Off” is not an easy show to do. It is very physical and very demanding with of all of the running around, up and down, in and outs, of doors, windows, stairs, acting like you can’t act or remember or deliver dialogue, etc., and timing is also crucial. Being an actor, and having to play an actor playing a role is not as easy as it sounds and this cast does this so seamlessly, there were times that I got confused as to whether I was watching the play-within-the-play (“Nothing On”) or, the cast of “Noise Off” rehearsing!  This is the second time Dori has directed this show and she says what helps is to have actors who have a strong work ethic like these actors, “Not only are they talented, they are super-duper committed. I remember one night I said to them – the set being turned around was kind of an issue. We didn’t always have the people to turn the set around – so, on the night that we were going to do an Act 2 run, we didn’t have anybody to turn the set around so, I said to the cast, ‘Because we’re not going to have the set, I can give you guys the night off,’ and they said, ‘No, we’d like to come in,’ and we ended up doing it upstairs .”

Michael Herschberg as Frederick/Philip and Jackie Flashjian as Belinda/Flavia

Ted Talanian was the Set Designer and did a wonderful job creating the “Noises Off” reality. Very well done and realistic. The way he handled the set changes between acts is very creative. I’m going to leave that as a surprise for you.

The costumes were also great, adding a splash of a color to add to the colorful life of the characters.

All in all, “Noises Off” was a very enjoyable, hilarious comedy with the perfect pairing of actors. I highly recommend it.

Sara Norton as Brooke/Vicki, Beth Morell as Dotty/Mrs. Clackett, Justin Grankewicz as Selsdon/Burglar, Chris March as Garry/Roger and Kacee Rimer as Poppy

“Noises Off” is the first performance in MMAS’ new space and performs for two more weekends on March 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at 888 South Main Street Theater, Mansfield, MA. (Please note the new address). For more information and tickets you can visit

The Duxbury Players present The Savannah Sipping Society

Is Mercury in retrograde? I only have these issues when Mercury is in retrograde. This review was supposed to be out last week but I have had nothing but technical difficulties since I saw a preview of this show. Disclaimer: My digital camera had o juice so I had to use my phone – so please forgive the quality.

Nancy Haywood Semcken as Marlafaye, Cara Lee Mazza as Jinx, Bonnie Gardner as Randa and Carol Mirotta as Dot in the Duxbury Bay Players’ “The Savannah Sipping Society”

One afternoon while I was in the break room at work, a woman named Denise had come in for her break and we started chatting. All of a sudden she said, “You’re single aren’t you?” Not really knowing where she was going with that I slowly answered “Um, yeah?” LOL. She then proceeded to ask me what the chances were that I could save up enough money to go to Aruba in a year. “Pretty good!” I replied. And so it began. One of the most significant relationships of my life. 21 years later (6 years ago) Denise passed away way too early. Her family let me add some of my pictures for the board that they were going to have at her funeral. As I was going through my photo albums, looking for the best pictures to send, I started to realize that some of the best moments of my life were shared with her. I wondered, would I have even had those moments and experiences had I not met her?

Me & Denise in the middle of her brother and Mom on a trip to California

The Savanna Sipping Society made me think of this.
A group of women meet after a hot yoga session and discover that they have a lot in common. One of them makes a joke about getting together for “Happy Hour” which the others take seriously and invite themselves over to her house on Friday night for a girls night. And so it begins.

The Savanna Sipping Society is an absolutely adorable, sweet, endearing show about friendship. About how we meet people accidentally (or not) and how those relationships validate that old saying that “people are in your life for a reason.”
As I sat there watching the show next to director Theresa Chiasson, I leaned over to her at one point and I whispered to her “This is my life!” I think many audience members who attend the show are going to feel the same way and this is what makes The Savannah Sipping Society so enjoyable – it’s real life.

Theresa agrees. “The theme of THE SAVANNAH SIPPING SOCIETY, in my mind, is that we can get through anything with good friends by our side,” says Chiasson. “We all face disappointments and sorrows but, with someone to lighten the load or simply listen to the tale, all will be as it should. And how much more joyful the good times are when shared with those we love.”

The women in The Savannah Sipping Society are delightful. I was thoroughly entertained by each one. Bonnie Gardner plays Randa, a workaholic attorney who was let go at her law firm and without work, has no idea what to do with her life.

“I’d read the script and saw another production of this show before; I loved the characters and thought it was hilarious.”

Nancy Haywood Semcken plays Marlafaye, a southern spitfire whose husband has left her for a 23 year old.

“Although not a show with which I was familiar, I had heard that it was tightly written and off the charts funny. As one matures, opportunities for roles, especially amazing ones like these, are not offered that often.”

Carol Mirotta plays Dot, a new widow struggling to adjust to life alone.

“I saw there was a place for a ‘mature’ woman in this production and I jumped at the opportunity!”

Cara Lee Mazza Chamberlain plays Jinx, the youngest of the group who came to town to live with and care for her ill sister.

“I had worked with our director, Theresa, before when I played Truvy in Steel Magnolias. When I saw she was doing another show about powerful, southern women, I had to audition for her and get involved.”

The actresses were all very natural and their energy was infectious. There was an organic feel to the relationships between these women which lent to the realness of the show which is how audiences will be able to relate so well.

The costumes were donated by Hingham Civic Music Theater with some pieces made by Richard Sherman. The costumes fit each of the characters both figuratively as well as literally and were so vibrant against the subtle backdrops of the beautifully crafted set. They really popped. And speaking of the set, it was designed by longtime Bay Players member Ricky Bowser. I am a big Ricky Bowser fan. LOL. She has been designing the sets for the Bay Players for several years now and they are always amazing. This set was no different. I was instantly transported to Randa’s Georgia back porch.
I am going to stop here because I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to be said that The Savanna Sipping Society is definitely a show worth seeing. You will fall in love with these four ladies, you will relate to them, you will laugh – hysterically – and you might just even become verklemped for a moment – but above all you will walk away thinking of the friends who have become some of the most important people in your life.

The Savanna Sipping Society runs for one more weekend at the first Parish Church 842 Tremont St. in Duxbury Massachusetts. February 28th and 29th at 8 PM. You can buy your tickets at the door or you can purchase them online at

It’s Theatre Season!

photo courtesy of

It’s Fall here on the East Coast and you know what that means theatre peeps – theatre season! Get ready for this blog to explode with so much content you’ll find it difficult to keep up!

Next week, I start visiting products during their Tech Week to talk with directors, cast and crew, get some great pictures and watch the show so I can deliver a review in time for opening night!

So, stay tuned for these article sand much more!

gif courtesy of

True Repertory Theatre Auditions! (Massachusetts)

photo courtesy of

True Repertory Theatre Company is holding auditions on Sunday, August 4th at 6pm for understudies for its 2019-2020 Season. We are seeking men and women age 20+ to be understudies for the following shows:

“The Imposter”
Rehearsals begin September 4th
Performances are October 11, 12, 13, 18 & 19

“Steel Magnolias”
Rehearsals begin January 12th
Performances are February 21, 22, 28 & 29

“Thinner Than Water”
Rehearsals begin March 22nd
Performances are April 24, 25, May 1 & 2

“Noises Off”
Rehearsals begin May 17th
Performances are June 19, 20, 26 & 27

Auditions will be held at
Beal House
222 Main Street
Kingston, MA

Headshot and Resume
2 contrasting monologues (combined total should be 3 minutes)

To schedule your slot, please message us at one of the following:

Facebook page


Phone 781.242.2799

True Repertory Theatre Company is holding auditions on Sunday, August 4th at 6pm for the musical “Is There Life After High School” We are seeking men and women age 20+ to join our Musical Theatre Company

“Is There Life After High School” (Musical)
Rehearsals begin October 23rd
Performances are November 29, 30 and December 1

We will also be producing musical reviews and concert versions of musicals at The Adams Center in Kingston. These projects will take place throughout our 2019-2020 Season and dates are TBD.

Auditions will be held at
Beal House
222 Main Street
Kingston, MA

Headshot and Resume
1 song of your choice ACAPELLA

To schedule your slot, please message us at one of the following:

Facebook page


Phone 781.242.2799

“Other Desert Cities” presented by The Bay Players of Duxbury

“Other Desert Cities” is a play written by Jon Robin Baitz. The play was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Phil Markella, the director, said he saw the play done a few years ago and loved it so he decided to direct it for the Bay Players (of which he is also the President).

Polly and Lyman Wyeth are former Hollywood elite and staunch Republicans. Their daughter Brooke is a writer who resides in New York but has returned to Palm Springs, California for Christmas. Previously, Brooke had suffered a clinical depression which resulted in her being hospitalized. Their son Trip is the creator of a reality show called “Jury of Your Peers” where the jurors are D-list celebrities. Then there is Polly’s sister Silda, an alcoholic fresh from rehab who has moved in with Polly and Lyman.

The family has had to deal with the loss of Henry, son/brother, who had been implicated in a bombing as part of his involvement with a radical underground subculture in Venice and then committed suicide. Brooke announces that her new book is a memoir of the family and also deals with the loss of brother Henry and the surrounding circumstances. As you can imagine, the family is not very happy with this. In fact, Polly and Lyman are downright disturbed at the content of Brooke’s new book and would like nothing more than to see her burn it or, at the very least, wait until they are dead to publish it. From there we watch as each one of the family members struggles through the reality that their lives will become public knowledge.

Allison Markella is a strong presence as the family’s matriarch as she fights to maintain control of the situation as well as her daughter. Allison never falters in her portrayal of the unapologetically “tough” mother.

Eric Joseph gives a touching performance as Lyman Wyeth, a father who struggles to understand his daughter and cope with his fear of her becoming emotionally unstable again (and he has been keeping a secret).

Jeff Ruel plays the younger brother, Trip, who has had to live in Henry’s shadow since he was 5 years old. Ruel does a wonderful job playing the voice of reason but is also very funny when delivering some sarcastic wittiness throughout the show.

Sharon Evans is an absolute delight as Silda, the rehabbed alcoholic and formerly estranged sister to Polly Lyman.

Sims McCormack shines as Brooke, the daughter struggling for understanding while coming to terms with her family’s heartbreak and frustration over her divorce, depression and ultimate hospitalization.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Other Desert Cities.” I thought director Phil Markella did a great job with the delicate balance of what the actors are saying versus what the actors are doing. The actors don’t engage in a lot of “busyness” which lends to the focus of the text which is where it should be. The actors did an admirable job with some tough content.

“Other Desert Cities” is a great show about a relatable family dealing with some relatable issues – realistically. Though these issues may be serious, do not let that keep you from seeing this show as there are many enjoyable moments including a little surprise at the end.

“Other Desert Cities” plays for one more weekend At the First Parish Church, 842 Tremont Street, in Duxbury on Saturday May 18th at 8pm and Saturday May 19th at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or through Brown Paper Tickets (link through Facebook Page or website below).


Welcome to #theatrelife! The everything theatre blog in Massachusetts. As an actress, producer and director of theatre here in Massachusetts for 25 years, I realize that local theatres here do not get enough of the kinds of exposure they need to thrive and bring in audiences. So, this blog will be sharing things like reviews of local productions, articles/interviews with theatre professionals, stuff from around the web, and hopefully, reader contributions.

First up, my review of The Bay Players of Duxbury’s production of “Other Desert Cities” written by Jon Robin Baitz and directed by Phil Markella!