An expressionless teenage boy in a crisp white shirt and a dark vest took the tickets and quietly requested that everyone find seats in the lower half of the theater.
Perhaps they weren’t expecting much of a crowd for this high school play.
But by the time the cast and crew got “Noises Off” under way Saturday night at North Central, maybe 175 of their parents, grandparents, siblings, classmates, friends and teachers filled up a decent portion of the modern gray and red theater.
The audience gave off a happy buzz.
Once the show started and everyone realized the teenage actors would be affecting English accents, that was replaced by at least a few silent prayers. Or so it seemed.
But not to worry. The performers pretty much pulled it off. And before long, the clever comedy about an inept troupe of British actors putting on an uninspired bedroom farce started delivering laughs.
The number of letter jackets out in the audience wasn’t the only reminder that this was at a high school.
Out in the hall after the first act, a girl with frizzy brown hair filed an urgent report on a pay phone. “He’s here,” she said. “He’s sitting like four rows in front of me…well, I thought you’d want to know.”
The truly funny second act required a staggering amount of split-second timing. Certainly more than one onlooker had to have been thinking, “Wow, these kids must have really worked long and hard to get all this down.”
The high school play is an American classic, of course. That’s not just because there’s never a shortage of show-offs, and drama departments simply refuse to go away. It’s because these performances offer students a chance to extend themselves and demonstrate that there’s more going on there than meets the eye.
Like its countless predecessors, Saturday night’s “Noises Off” was all about poise under pressure.
The acting might have had a few rough edges. But it was all but impossible to not be impressed with the young men and women up on stage and to find oneself rooting for them.
You didn’t have to be a relative to share in the pride. You just had to be there.
The play ended at about a quarter till 10. There was a standing ovation.
Up on the stage, the actors’ faces beamed silent thank-yous.
“That was so cool,” one teenage girl in the audience said to the boy standing and clapping beside her.
And she was right.
It was so cool.
, DataTimes MEMO: Being There is a weekly feature that visits Inland Northwest gatherings.