Falls Church native Elliot Duffy will be starring in Virginia Commonwealth University’s production of “Noises Off” this fall. While this is the second play at the school that Duffy has been cast in, it will be the first time the actor will take a lead role in a VCU production.
Duffy, a McLean High School alumnus, was part of the school’s theater program for most of his high school career, and acted in plays such as “The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan” and “Twelve Angry Jurors.” Most notably, he played lawyer Billy Flynn in the school’s production of the musical “Chicago.”
Last year, Duffy played a minor character when VCU’s Department of Theatre staged “The Elephant Man.” For his upcoming play, which opens Friday, Duffy will play one of the main characters. As Garry Lejeune, Duffy will perform as an actor with a stutter and a short fuse. It won’t be his only role in the play, though.
“Noises Off” is a play within a play, and as such Duffy will act as Lejeune, but will also act as Lejeune performing as Roger, a real estate agent in the play “Nothing On”
The play within a play antics promise hilarity for audiences, as do the physical comedy elements of this farce, from falling down the stairs to ridding the stage of sardines.
Duffy has to do scenes where he trips over his own shoe laces and other slapstick moves as part of the comedy of the play.
“Since I was a young lad, I enjoyed silent films, physical comedy and slapstick, and this is the biggest moment in being able to do that,” Duffy said. “I’ve never been in a play before that is so physically strenuous. I’ve been getting into shape from this show, running around, up and down stairs. It’s so exciting to be in the exact kind of play I want to do right now.”
Duffy has been rehearsing for the last few months with guest director Anita Maynard-Losh of D.C.’s Arena Stage, while balancing his many commitments as a college student.
“She understands that it’s physically difficult to be rehearsing for the play all while going to classes and doing homework,” Duffy said. “She’s been kind about not being too hard on us, but at the same time she’s made the play great with her directing.”
Duffy has been diligently learning his lines and getting his timing right for all the slapstick he does, and it made him realize just how much he has to perfect for the play.
“It started dawning on me now just how much more I get to do, how much dialogue, the responsibility to make sure that the play comes across right,” Duffy said. “But I don’t want to get too nervous – this is still a production, it’s not just me. It’s not just about my part in it. It’s an ensemble-oriented show. Although there’s a load of lines, the responsibility is on us.”
“Noises Off” opens Friday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m., and will be performed through Oct. 7 at VCU. For more information, visit facebook.com/TheatreVCU.