North students take the stage in unique comedy

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 3, 2012

 Grosse Pointe North High School’s performance of “Noises Off” will open Oct. 4 with shows scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7.

Grosse Pointe North High School’s performance of “Noises Off” will open Oct. 4 with shows scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The nine-member cast of “Noises Off” had their work cut out for them when it came to getting this show curtain ready for opening night this week.

It took a lot of work, because comedy, this one in particular, is no cake walk. Yet, every time director Marty Bufalini sends a cast from Grosse Pointe North on stage, they’re ready to entertain a crowd and they’ve grown as actors from the experience.

Bufalini is always trying to challenge the actors at Grosse Pointe North. While he says he tells them that he “doesn’t do high school,” expecting a professional performance, he does want them to learn, to push the boundaries of what they know about acting.

“It’s not an easy play to do,” he said. “It’s not easy to do; timing is key.

“I want them to learn timing,” he added. “I wanted them to learn teamwork and how to be an ensemble.”

While he expects a professional show, he makes sure academics come first and asks students what their homework load is before determining how late to rehearse.

“Noises Off,” by Michael Frayn, is a comedy “about this really bad acting troupe,” Bufalini said.

A show within a show, the actors have to pretend they’re working on a show as actors in that show, so to speak.

“It’s a fiasco, I mean a total fiasco — late entrances, props are getting screwed up, people are getting chased with axes, fights breaking out,” he said of the performance. “It’s a farce.

“I suppose you could have a lesson for acting students on how not to do things,” Bufalini said of the characters in the play.

One thing that always impresses with the plays at both North and South are the sets, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

“In one piece, it turns for act two,” Bufalini said of the set, a full staircase with doors and windows.

“Act 2, the entire set turns around so the real audience sees the back of this set,” Bufalini said.

Bufalini said this play is simply sheer entertainment for the audience, but it is a challenge for the cast. The all-student cast is joined by a number of students in the crew, as well, including stage managers and others.

“I like to get all of them involved,” he said of the students on the show, adding that he started a varsity letter program and there are opportunities for induction into the local chapter of the International Thespian Society.

Because of the challenge of this show and the importance of the stage itself, they started rehearsing on set earlier than they normally do.

“The set is integral with the plot — the set and the props,” Bufalini said.

“It’s probably one of the coolest sets we’ve had at North,” junior cast member Analisa Guido said.

The cast had a chance to help build the set.

“It feels awesome to see our creation, what we helped make, on stage,” sophomore cast member Katelyn Carroll said.

Chris Walsh, a senior and stage manager, said this show is “a lot different than what we’ve done before, which is really nice.”

He agreed that the show can be challenging, but “it’s nothing they can’t handle.” 

The cast also liked the challenge of the show, and they don’t think the audience will be disappointed.

“It’s probably, like, one of the funniest plays that I’ve ever read or been in,” senior cast member Kyle Stefek said.

Sophomore Jamie Lackner said this is her biggest role so far.

“The amount of farce and comedy in this, it is really phenomenal,” she said.

Senior Jacob VandenBoom said this was also his largest role.

“This is also the funnest role that I’ve had,” he said.

Other cast members agreed.

“It’s a very fun, yet challenging, show,” senior cast member Logan Hart said.

“I like how quick it is; something’s always grabbing your eyes, something’s always happening,” senior cast member Stephanie Saravolatz said.

Peter Gritsas, a sophomore who plays the director in the cast, said he enjoys turning the tables and taking on the role of director within the play.

“I love that my character is a director and I like seeing it almost from the other end,” he said.

“You see it from the perspective of the play within the play,” Gritsas said of the show.

Freshman Jeffrey Redd joined the cast of many seasoned North actors for this show, but said, “Everyone welcomed me.”

Redd also said he likes how Bufalini directed the play.

When it comes to working with the young actors, Bufalini enjoys helping the students get ready for each show.

“I love working with these kids,” he said. “I really do. I can have a terrible, rotten day and come here and it sort of revitalizes me. This is a good cast.”

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and 6 and 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Grosse Pointe Performing Arts Center, 707 Vernier. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students.