ENGLEWOOD — Mrs. Clackett rushes around the living room looking for the sardines she’d wrapped in newspaper.
“And I take the sardines. No, I leave the sardines. No, I take the sardines,” Lemon Bay High School senior Lauren Wickerson belts out on stage while acting the part of Mrs. Clackett in the production “Noises Off.”
The student production, which is a play within a play, is on track for its public performances Aug. 15-17 at the Lemon Bay Performing Arts Center in Englewood.
It’s hard work, since, as the play goes on, the confusion builds and things become more convoluted.
Seconds after a disheveled Clackett gets off the phone, she encounters the arrival of the homeowners — a rich couple in Spain, hiding from British tax collectors. They open and close bedroom and bathroom doors in the house while settling in for the night. They are unaware another couple is at the house on a secret romantic tryst. So when one couple sets something down like a box or telephone, the other couple picks it up and puts it back in its place.
Then a burglar who resembles a guest shows up. And all the while, Clackett tries to track down her sardines.
“Noises Off” is a comedy centering on the director of an eccentric theater company who tries to put his production together. However he has a terrible cast and crew. They argue, they fight, they have romances — but that’s nothing compared to what happens backstage.
“This is the hardest show to direct,” said Lemon Bay High School Sarah Ballard-Richardson, LBHS theater teacher. “It’s got a lot of moving parts — literally.”
As the cast practiced after school Tuesday, Ballard-Richardson would yell out reminders for props and other details still.
“We need a new (old-fashioned) phone,” she called out. “We need a hook for the wall.”
“In 1992, they made ‘Noises Off’ into a movie with Carol Burnett, John Ritter, Christopher Reeves and Michael Caine. There’s a lot of physical comedy. It’s a play about all of the different things that go wrong in the play — and of course, sardines.”
The play features students in multiple roles, since they are actors, and also characters in the play.
They include Lauren Wickerson, 18, and Mason Quick, 17, who both played in “Shrek Jr.,” “The Addams Family,” “Grease” and “She Loves Me.” Wickerson also played in “Guys & Dolls” and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
Quick, 17, also played in “A Christmas Carol” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” and now is Frederick in “Noises Off.”
“I’ve been in or helped in every show for the past four years,” said LBHS actress Alice Lewis, 19, who plays Belinda.
Bryan Fernandez, 16, plays the Garry, the man who at one point falls down the stairs of the home he brings his mistress.
“This is Avery Witt’s first big role,” Ballard-Richardson said of the 15-year-old who plays Brooke.
Madison Hanson, 16, plays the stage manager, Tina, and a burglar. Trace Richardson, 16, plays Lloyd; Julia Lehman plays Poppy and Alan Schleden, 16, plays Selsdon.
“We still have tickets available,” Ballard-Richardson said. “After we are done with the play we will be preparing for the summer theater camp for elementary and middle school students. We will be doing “Seussical The Musical Jr.” with the elementary students and “Seussical” with the middle school students. In the junior version, the middle school students will help the elementary students with the props, sound and stage management. It’s going to be exciting.”
The school follows CDC guidelines for mask-wearing at entry to the theater, and is only filling the theater at 25% capacity. When tickets are purchased, the system automatically allows for social distancing between seats.