Whether you find Sierra Repertory Theatre’s “Unnecessary Farce” funny is an open-and-shut case.
That is to say, doors open and shut constantly throughout the comedic caper filled with slapstick humor, mistaken identity and general high jinks. The production opens May 29 at Sierra Rep’s East Sonora Theatre and runs until June 28.
The fast-paced farce takes place in a small-town motel as a corrupt mayor and his accountant meet while being secretly surveilled by two police officers. But things go haywire, and then some, as the plot thickens and problems ensue for the often-inept characters.
Sierra Rep co-founder and producing director Dennis Jones directs the play with a cast of seven actors. They include veteran Los Angeles voice actor Pat Pinney as Todd the Scottish hit man, Kirstin Howell as officer Billie Dwyer and Sierra Rep veteran Ty Smith as dimwitted Mayor Meekly.
Pinney, who voices Painty the Pirate in the opening theme for “SpongeBob SquarePants” and was the voice behind Mighty Mouse in “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse” and Harry in “Harry and the Hendersons,” was roommates with Jones when they attended University of the Pacific.
This is the first Sierra Rep production the two college friends have been able to work on together.
“I’ve been trying to get together with Dennis for years. So I was delighted to come back here,” said Pinney, who can also be heard in “Robot Chicken” and “Toy Story.” “It’s wonderful. This was the opportunity to shake it up and give me a work vacation. The theater is where I started, and I don’t get a chance to do it that often. With a play like this and part like this, I couldn’t resist.”
Fellow Sierra Rep newcomer and Canadian actress Howell, who is now based in Los Angeles, said she laughed out loud while reading the script for the first time.
Though this is the first farce she has done, Howell said that playing her character was not unlike preparing for a role in a musical.
“It’s similar to musical theater because it’s basically all choreography. It’s all the slamming doors, getting tied up, falling down,” she said. “In a show like this, chemistry is really important, trust is really important. I just hope everyone laughs so much because this will be an uproarious delight.”
The rest of the cast is rounded out by Daniel Hines (of Sierra Rep’s “Carousel” and “I Love a Piano”), Nick Ferruci (“All My Sons” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”), Francesca Manzi and Diane Kondrat.
Cast members said the play, which is intended for ages 13 and older, should leave audiences laughing all the way out the door – and then some.
“It’s a rapid-fire play. People are going in and out of doors. One-liners are going back and forth. There are fights, sexual innuendo. It’s one of those plays where you have to be on your game,” Pinney said. “It’s just a heck of a good time.”
Sierra Repertory Theatre’s “Unnecessary Farce”
When: Opens 7 p.m. May 29; runs 2 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday through June 28
Where: Sierra Repertory Theatre, East Sonora Theatre, 13891 Mono Way, Sonora
Call: (209) 532-3120