John Noble has played all kinds of cantankerous old men onstage, some lovable and some not so much, but playing a character who is going blind is new territory.
"It's been a bit of a struggle dealing with the blindness of my character," said Noble, who is sharing the stage with Colleen Lovett in Robert Caisley's 2014 play "Lucky Me" at the Theater Barn in New Lebanon Friday through Sept. 24. "There's one scene where I have pills in my hand and I'm supposed to feel them, not look at them. I catch myself looking at them in rehearsal, as well as the other actors. Usually, you want to make eye contact with your fellow actors. In this show I have to remember not to look at them."
Noble, an Amsterdam native and Colonie resident, is one of the Capital Region's premiere character actors. He plays Leo in "Lucky Me" and his co-star, Lovett, who plays his daughter, Sara, is also a popular performer among the Capital Region theater community. She also knows something about playing a blind person, having had the lead in last season's production of "Wait Until Dark" at Schenectady Civic.
"This is the first time I've worked with Colleen, but I know she did a great job of playing the blind woman in 'Wait Until Dark' and she's been helping me," said Noble, who like Lovett has also performed at Schenectady Civic. "She told me about how she practiced walking around with her eyes closed, and how she would look at people's ears instead of their eyes. I feel like I finally got it the other day, but it's hard to be up there onstage and not look at anyone."
In "Lucky Me," Lovett's character must deal with her irascible and demanding father, played by Noble, who has made life quite difficult for his daughter.
"I love him because he's obstreperous," said Noble. "My first line in the show, to her boyfriend, is 'Who the hell are you?'" said Noble. "He's struggling because he's going blind, and his poor daughter has bad luck. She's gotta deal with him and he's chasing away all her boyfriends."
Noble is anything but obstreperous in real life, according to Lovett.
"John is a lot of fun to work with," she said. "His character is hilarious and John himself is also very funny. Between the two of them, he's always cracking us up on the set."
While there are serious and dramatic moments in "Lucky Me," it is a comedy, which is fine with Lovett.
"I tend to do a lot of dramatic roles, like 'Wait Until Dark,'" said Lovett, a Queens native who moved to Niskayuna after graduating from the University at Albany in 1990. "In this show my character does have a lot to deal with, but she is very funny. Even though she has this demanding father and all this bad luck, she does have some optimism. Like the blind woman, she does have a lot of insecurities, but she deals with them differently. The way she approaches things is a bit quirky, and that's fun."
Former Shaker High teacher Phil Rice is directing the show, while also in the cast are Rich Lounello as Tom, a boyfriend, and Toby Wherry as Uri, the landlord.
"Toby plays a great landlord and that provides plenty of comic relief," said Noble. "Rich is the boyfriend and I treat him terribly. I usually call him by the wrong name. It's a comedy, but I would say it's a dark comedy."
"Lucky Me" had its world premiere in August of 2014 at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch.
WHERE: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Sept. 24; performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $$27-$25
MORE INFO: (518) 794-8989