By Jamie Bullins

Lofte Community Theatre, Saturday, October 15, 2022, 7:00 pm. 

I must start by saying what a delight it was to visit the Lofte Community Theatre in Manley last evening. The drive from Lincoln was about 40 minutes or so, and just seeing this exceptional facility, kind of out in the middle of nowhere, on a gravel road, was exciting in and of itself. As you can tell, it was my first time there. The staff was friendly and welcoming and, man, that snack bar. Damn. I have never seen that many options at a snack bar. 

You know, I’ve seen this script maybe 4 times now over the years, so, the jokes are familiar and the premise no surprise. It’s the second time I’ve seen it this season, in fact. It’s a popular farce, because it works, and successfully pulls the proverbial veil off how theatre works; how the magic is made, or the tragic, one could say. It has all the elements of the classic farce: physical humor (lots of that), exaggerated characters (often very stereotypical) and performance style, miscommunication and misunderstandings, and doors (numerous) to slam (a lot). 

I won’t spoil any of the hilarity, please head out to the Lofte to experience it for yourself. It’s just funny. Who doesn’t need a good laugh? 

During the preshow announcements I quickly came to understand that the Lofte is deeply rooted in the community that surrounds them. It warms me up on the inside to see people reaching out around them and extending that idea of connection and a shared idea of who we are and how to work and play together. Kudos. 

To again avoid any spoilers, I won’t go into great detail on the technical elements, I’ll just say they were well done and offered strong support to the production. I do know that Kevin Colbert is going to need a rest. He is listed in the program as director, lighting designer, technical director, adapter of the scenic design, set crew, and also (no biggie) Artistic Director of the Lofte Community Theatre. When does this man sleep? 

The performers here have created a tight ensemble, which is absolutely required with this script, and ride this physical romp top to bottom, with many well-choreographed moments that bring the hilarity to a peak. Deanna Walz (Dotty) was a strong reflection of my own journey through the evening. Often confused and just eventually exhausted. It’s a grand challenge to keep up with all the action and Dotty often is at the center of all things throughout. Super fun. Neal Herring (Lloyd), our lecherous director with a bit of a god complex, seems to be the stability for the ill-fated production of Nothing On. His frustration drives the development of the story, from final rehearsals into the tour. And even when he’s not there, you find that he is! Adam Kovar (Garry), holy cow man, you wore me out. My sincere gratitude to you for your sheer physical dedication to the role. Funny stuff. Alyssa Rosecrans (Brooke) shows this stunning focus. She hangs on to what she knows (which is often very little), and that’s what she does to maintain her composure. You know, she kind of seems lost, but she also may be the only one keeping her cool. Natalie McGovern (Poppy) plays the put-upon glue that holds this whole thing together (along with Nathan R.H. Wilson (Tim)). Without the two of them, the whole thing would fall to pieces, which is often true to life for the crew and technicians of the world. I didn’t see anything that led me to believe that our actual crew wasn’t doing a phenomenal job: everything in this technical behemoth ran silky smooth. Good job guys. Mick Kovar (Frederick) had this great apologetic spirit that made him a lovable character throughout. You just wanted to help this poor guy out. Anne Pope (Belinda) knew everything about everyone. The character helps keep the info coming clearly and kind of acts as a narrator. You look to her when she’s onstage, ‘cause you know she has the information you need to stay clued in. She wore that well, keeping a level head while all those around her were losing theirs, you know, that sort of calm we all look to. The eye of the hurricane that is this play. And Jon R. Kruse (Selsdon), the stereotypical aged, oft inebriated member of our cast. Tip top performance here. He was subtle and smooth. Nice work. 

Get out to the Lofte and see Noises Off! It’s just good fun and it always feels good to be in a theatre and share in the laughter around you. Have I said this before? Theatre in Nebraska has heart. Thank you, Lofte Community Theatre, keep telling your stories.

If you go: You can catch Noises Off! October 16, 21-23, 27-30, Curtain: Thursday, Friday, Saturday 7:00 pm, Sunday 2:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased online.  

Jamie Bullins is on the faculty in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film at UNL, since the fall of 2017. He is an Educator, Scenographer, Director, and Playwright and has been at it for almost 30 years now. 

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