Rare Pieper collaboration in 'Noises Off'

Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012, 9:42 am
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By Claudia Loucks
GENESEO -- It was theater that introduced Kevin Pieper to his wife Valeree in 1981. Until recently, the couple has been opposite each other on stage just twice.

That changes with the Richmond Hill Players upcoming production of "Noises Off," where Mr. Pieper is cast as Freddie/Philip, and his wife portrays Belinda Blair and Flavia Brent, Philip's wife. Jalayne Riewerts, Morrison, directs the show described as "Michael Frayn's madcap, slapstick farce."

"Noises Off" is Mr. Pieper's first time on stage at Richmond Hill. He had been watching for a nonmusical comedy to audition for, "and when this one came up, it looked like a good fit." His character is an American actor who portrays Philip, an English gentleman in the play within the play.

"Philip and his wife Flavia appear to enjoy travel and living the high life, while trying hard to avoid paying any income tax to the homeland," Mr. Pieper said. "Freddie, the actor, seems to be a little insecure and vulnerable, almost to the annoyance of the show director and his fellow castmates. He asks a lot of questions of his director and makes many unwelcome suggestions as to how the play should be done."

Mrs. Pieper said "Noises Off" is a comedy "with a lot of physical humor."

"We are a group of American actors rehearsing and performing a British farce," she said. "As the actor, Belinda, I am kind of a mother figure in that I show concern about the dilemmas of my fellow actors. As the character, Flavia, I am an affluent woman returning from a vacation in Spain, expecting some alone time with my husband."

Exposure to theater began early for Mr. Pieper, whose parents were active in Quad City Music Guild. He made his debut on stage in high school musicals and plays, and followed his parents into Music Guild at the age of 15.

Mr. Pieper most recently was Bob Wallace in Music Guild's "White Christmas," in 2010. Other favorite roles of his include Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music" (2004); Trevor Graydon in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (2007); Fredric Graham in "Kiss Me Kate" (2003); Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" (2001); Harold Hill in "The Music Man" (1998); Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady" (1996); George M. Cohan in "George M!" (2006); Frank Butler in "Annie Get Your Gun" (1994); and Thomas Jefferson in "1776" (1992).

Mr. Pieper has directed and designed/built sets for "The Pajama Game," "The Producers," "My Fair Lady," "It's A Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Carol," "Sugar," "Nunsense," "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Nuncrackers."

He enjoys all aspects of theater, "from the friendships that are made, to the creation of characters, to designing and building sets and seeing the final production take shape. It has been a great outlet for me and my family over the years and has given us many wonderful memories and experiences."

A Rock Island native and Augustana graduate, Mr. Pieper is executive vice president/chief risk officer for DHCU Community Credit Union, and has been in the banking and credit union business for 35 years. He and his wife have two daughters, Hillary and Heather.

Mrs. Pieper views theater as "an opportunity to be someone else, go places and do things you might never do in your day-to-day life. … I've met a lot of wonderful people and enjoyed working with them to create something unique. Some shows are more challenging than others, but they are all rewarding in the end."

"Both of our daughters share this passion," she said. "Watching a show is even more enjoyable when you are being entertained by someone you love."

The Piepers met at a rehearsal for "My Fair Lady," and have only been opposite each other on stage in 1984 in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and in 1992 as Martha and Thomas Jefferson in "1776."

Mrs. Pieper also was born in Rock Island and was active in choir and theater in school. A graduate of Marycrest College with a degree in music education, Mrs. Pieper teaches music in the Moline school district.

At Richmond Hill, Mrs. Pieper played Connie Miller in "1940's Radio Hour" in 1996. Since then, she has played Twink Futrelle in both "Dearly Beloved" (2008) and "Christmas Belles" (2010), and this summer was Prudence Harper in "More than Meets the Eye."

Her Music Guild roles include Narrator, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (1995); Laurie, "Oklahoma" (1998); Dolly Levi, "Hello Dolly" (1999); Millie, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" (2001); Sister Robert Anne, "Nunsense" (2003); Queen Aggravain, "Once Upon a Mattress" (2008); and Mrs. Tottendale, "Drowsy Chaperone" (2011). She's also been music director for six Music Guild shows -- most recently "It's a Wonderful Life" (2006) and "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (2007) -- and was choreographer for five productions.

If you go

What: "Noises Off."
When: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 4-7 and Oct. 10-14; all performances at 7:30 p.m., except Sundays at 3 p.m.
Where: Barn Theater, atop Richmond Hill Park in Geneseo.
Tickets: $10; $8 on Thursdays, available at (309) 944-2244 or at rhplayers.com.


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