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Fun Begins Early, Builds Throughout Foreigner
Paul Brissett, Duluth News Tribune
October 21, 2011
The first act of The Foreigner, which opened Thursday at UMD, was amusing enough, but the fun didn’t really start until the simpleton, the old lady and the debutante, led by “the foreigner,” set the bullies of the Ku Klux Klan back on their heels with mockery.
Director Michael Perreca has crafted a tight, crisp production of Larry Shue’s 1983 script, the title character of which is the uptight Britisher so anxious about conversation that he pretends he speaks no English during a stay at a rural Georgia lodge.
Act One plays with the stereotypical Southerners and their unique way of speaking. Charlie Baker (Preston Grant), the foreigner, is being taught some English terms at the breakfast table by simple-but-good-hearted Ellard (Derik Iverson), who drew the biggest laugh of the show to that point by stressing that “fork” is pronounced “FAH-wurk.”
Because of his assumed inability to understand, Charlie is allowed to overhear plans by the Rev. David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas), whose clean-cut, leading-man looks barely hide a cruel and conniving heart, to cheat the lodge-owner, Betty Meeks (Emilie LaBonte) out of her home and turn it into a KKK headquarters. His collaborator is the hot-headed redneck Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick). The good reverend also discloses that he is marrying Catherine Simms (Emily Fletcher), one of Betty’s lodgers, for her inheritance.
Perreca has attempted to inject extra energy into the essentially expository first act by calling for the broadest of characterizations and almost cartoonish gesticulation, which some cast members manage with greater grace than others. Although, as noted, it’s amusing, especially if one has never seen the play before, it’s only building the basis for Act Two.
In the second half of the play, Charlie openly challenges Lee and Musser, but seemingly innocently because he only half-understands what he’s saying—as far as the other characters are concerned. But when Musser, humiliated, decides to take the lodge by force rather than subterfuge, Charlie musters Ellard, Betty and Catherine to hold the fort.
A pivotal scene has Charlie telling a long story in his “native” language, an assemblage of nonsense words and some just close enough to English to be intelligible. Combining them with charades-like gestures, Grant drew applause not only from his onstage audience but people in the paid seats as well.
Grant is only one member of a universally effective cast. Iverson has a slack-jawed, straight-on gaze that perfectly captures Ellard. And Fletcher’s Catherine is first off-putting as the frustrated, pregnant bride-to-be, then winning as the vulnerable deceived woman.
The razor-sharp timing of the characters’ interplay is key to the production’s success, enhanced by the polish of the sight gags with which Perreca has laced the show. Curtis Phillips’ painstakingly detailed lodge set and Andrea Robinson’s careful and evocative costume design add greatly.
UMD’s production of The Foreigner
Before the first act even began the audience got a taste of one phenomenal character. Betty made her presence known to the audience and shared come comedy as well while giving the theatre’s announcements. This alone made the audience sit on the edge of their seats and begin to enjoy the show.
The first act began with a realistic thunderstorm. From the lights to the sounds the audience felt like they were a part of what was going on. The first fifteen minutes of the play was mainly introducing the characters, and the setting of the remainder of the play, but it was difficult to follow along and some people began to get bored and loose interest. But, between the humor splattered in, and the obnoxious Betty, the few audience members who were beginning to be lost were brought back in.
When Froggy leaves the scene all of the chaos and true humor of the play began. Because of Charlie’s “inability to speak English” many secrets, and schemes thicken the plot that is about to thicken. It was almost like reading a novel when one knows what is going on the at the other characters don’t, but it made it interesting to have another character involved to see what would happen.
After all of the teaching, and love towards Charlie was presented a dramatic event involving the KKK put the entire audience on their toes. The short time that Charlie’s life was threatened the audience along with the characters had a deep love for him, and to see his life in danger was nothing one could have ever expected.
When the cast’s plan to fight off the KKK was acted out it was comical, but truly amazing. The special effects that were added were like something one would have seen on Broadway. It truly was amazing.
The twist at the end involving the minister was well played by the actors. It was not cheesy when he appeared to be a member of the KKK and the audience almost built hatred toward this man for threatening their beloved Charlie.
A happy ending for this comedy was exactly what the audience wanted.
The foreigner was the first theatre play I have ever seen. I was very impressed with the acting and the characters’ abilities to draw me into the play. The play is set in a lodge in Georgia where the main character, Charlie is staying temporarily and due to his fear of conversation, has everyone believing he is a foreigner who can’t speak any English. This fascinates the residents of the lodge and each develops a different relationship with Charlie. Betty takes on the role of the nurturing mother believed to have a special connection to Charlie that tells her exactly what he is thinking. She is loud and somewhat annoying but provides comic relief with her over exaggerated characterization. Catherine, a rich heiress, begins to tell Charlie all of her secrets thinking that he cannot understand her and you could see a potential for a relationship forming between them. Charlie has the most effect on Catherine’s simple minded brother Ellard. Charlie pretends that Ellard is teaching him English and impresses everyone with all the new words and phrases he learns in a matter of hours. This leads Catherine and Betty to think more highly of Ellard and eventually leads to Catherine giving him his portion of their inheritance. The villain of this play is Catherine’s fiancé, David. He plans on marrying Catherine for her money and cheating Ellard out of his inheritance, and also cheating Betty out of her lodging and turning it into a KKK meeting place. In an attempt to get rid of Charlie, David and his friends, who are all members of the KKK, come to the lodge to threaten and harm Charlie. However, their efforts were foiled when Charlie and Ellard come up with a plan that scares the Klan away by pretending Charlie had magical powers as a foreigner. David is found out as a member of the Klan and is sent packing by Catherine. All of the actors played their parts extraordinarily, enthralling the audience. I was also impressed with the set design, and I am excited to see more UMD productions.
The Foreigner was absolutely phenomenal and created laughter that surpassed any other performances shown before in that theatre.
The director Michael Perreca fine crafted this performance to be hilarious but underneath the laughing and jokes of this play, he added meaning. Perreca showed Charlie developing from being afraid to talk to people, to not being able to be quiet. This all started because Charlie pretended he couldn't talk, and while pretending, he observed the other characters behaviors and overheard things he shouldn't have. Perreca achieved many things in directing this play; He clearly defined developing characters and established how simple town folk can be fascinated by an outsider and welcome them in like their own flesh and blood.
Betty, Ellard, Catherine, Froggy, David, and Owen changed Charlie's life with this experience of adventure and great excitement. Charlie also changed all of their lives by helping Ellard be appreciated more, giving Betty excitement to have a foreigner staying there, and helping Catherine realize her finances' true motives. Perrecas attempt to turn this play into something extraordinary was accomplished, along with so much more.
The actor's in The Foreigner were simply astounding. Every character had a complete personality that was played to excellence. They were all extremely believeable and easy to relate to. Every character had their own way to make their part humorous, and with so many different types of humor portrayed, they reached out to everybody in the audience and had people laughing out of their chairs constantly. These actor's deserve an outstanding applause for their hard work because they brought this play to life and it was just simply amazing.
The scene, costumes, lighting, and sound support were crucial to this performance as well. The costumes portrayed what time this play was taking place, Betty's clothes were always portraying the olden days house wife look, and Ellard having on overalls showed his goofy side along with how long ago people actually wore overalls. The lighting also did an amazing job. It was always clear what time of day it was, because either the sky would be blue and bright, or it would be dim with lamps turned on in the house. The day to night scene changes were gradual and simply went unnoticed, which is significant.
This play was definitely worth attending; The Foreigner will make you laugh until you can't breathe, but also sends you a message to accept people for who they are, and to watch out for people who may be decieving you. Perreca created an outstanding performance that is sure to keep you laughing until it hurts.
From start to finish the Micheal Perreca directed play The Foreigner was very entertaining. The first thing to notice about the play was the scenery on the stage. It could not have felt more realistic. When sitting in the audience you actually feel as if you are in a lodge set in Georgia. All of the props on the wall and on the floor of the stage had the opportunity of being over distracting, but with the combination of great acting, and very precise lighting it worked out great.
The Foreigner is the story of a man name Charlie that was brought to a lodge in Georgia. Charlie is not wanting to speak to anyone there, which makes the others actors believe that he is a foreigner. From a helpful pal named Ellard, Charlie receives English lessons that are not so proper, which makes Ellard's character so hilarious.
Betty, Ellard, Catherine, Froggy, David and Owen did an amazing job. The actors that played each character could not have been chosen any better. Personally Ellard and Charlie stole the chow in my eyes. It was great to see by the end of the show how much Ellard was becoming more appreciated by his sister and other fellow friends.
The Foreigner was talked up for weeks about how great it will be. After seeing the play it exceeding all expectations and more. It was entertaining and hilarious from start to finish.
University of Minnesota Duluth’s performance of The Foreigner was absolutely astounding. The play had the audience roaring in laughter, on more than one occasion. The director, Michael Perreca’s, rendition of Larry Shue’s 1983 original script was done amazingly well.
The beginning of the play took some time to get going and get a feel for the story line. As soon as Betty was introduced, the play took off. When Froggy and Charlie were introduced, their dialogue was humorous, although it never seemed to really capture the audience. However, their connection between Froggy and Charlie really stood out. Betty’s introduction was marvelous. She really set the tone for both the play and her character as soon as she took a step on stage. David and Catherine were both perfect for their characters. Although rather annoying, they played their part well enough to have that kind of a reaction from the audience. Ellard, a sweet, innocent, and kindhearted soul had an enormous impact on the production. In Ellard’s efforts in “teaching” Charlie how to speak, he was eventually welcomed by both Betty and Catherine.
The Foreigner was designed as a comedy. Yet as hysterical as it was, it had definite moments of hope and truth behind the plot. The development in the main character, Charlie, was very easy to pick out, and Preston Grant seemed to do this effortlessly. He started out as insecure, boring, and almost saddened character. As he transformed however, he resulted in becoming a hilarious confident, and appealing man. As well as Charlie, Ellard developed as a character significantly through the play. Ellard was disregarded almost completely at the beginning of the play with the exception of him doing errands for those living in Betty’s house. As Ellard and Charlie’s relationship strengthens, Ellard starts to gain more respect in the household.
As well as the marvelous production put on by the cast, the set and lighting design were just as fantastic. The creativity and the precision of the set made the audience feel as if they were inside the lodge, experiencing the play in real life. The detail in the artwork on the walls and the exact locations of the props worked well with the cast and every detail was appreciated. The lighting design did not seem overly complex, however, the thunderstorm, the Klu Klux Klan, and the explosion of the van were very interesting touches to the lighting design.
Overall, a huge round of applause is deserved to everyone involved in this production. Comedies such as these are not easy to find.
The Foreigner was a show that appealed to crowds ranging from college students to the elderly. It kept the audience laughing and entertained from beginning to end. Director Michael Perreca not only provided nonstop laughter, but also provided a very strong story line and underlying message.
Starting with the scenery and costumes, the audience has the immediate feeling of being in the outskirts of Georgia. Scenic director, Curtis Phillps, does and incredible job of turning the stage into an old worn cabin using props ranging from pine trees to an old burning stove to random accessories upon the walls that reminds everyone of their grandparents cabin. Paul Blakely and Nick Gosen provided lighting and sound that made the audience feel as if they were sitting right inside the cabin.
The actors did an incredible job at keeping the audience entertained the entire play. Every character had an their own personality that kept them distinctly different from the others. Two characters that really stood out were Charlie Baker and Ellard Simms. Ellard Simms, played by Derik Iverson, started as a burden to the family to becoming an essential piece of the family. Iverson was amazing at portraying the dumb humor of Ellard and really convinced the audience that Ellard was "not the brightest bulb". Charlie Baker, played by Preston Grant, was the lovable foreigner who really brought the play together. Grant's body language and ability to portray emotion made Charlie Baker the most convincing character in the play.
The first half of the play built up the background of what the play was about but also provided comedy. The second half of the play is what really stood out. With Charlie becoming more and more comfortable with his surroundings, he began to communicate with everyone in the house which provided hilarious dialogue between the actors. The climax of the play was very clever. Charlie's ingenious plan to pretend to have evil powers was a part of the play that no one saw coming.
This feel good play provided a look into prejudice and sent the audience the message that if we stick together, we can overcome anything. Overall this was a fantastic, one of a kind play, that everyone should have the honor of attending.
The first act of The Foreigner was amusing from the start. Simple people in the lodge used to their everyday life. But when the foreigner himself came into the scene, well things became hilarious.
Director Michael Perreca did an excellent job of making this performance extremely funny. Although a lot of laughter was heard in the audience there was still a true meaning to the play. Perreca showed Charlie Baker (Preston Grant) who was afraid to talk in the beginning, wasn't able to be quiet at the end. Froggy LeSuer (Kevin Kiemen) had to leave for much of the play but told Charlie he was okay not to talk to anyone and could stay in his room in peace. While Charlie was afraid to talk, he was perceved by the common folk that he couldn't talk since he was from a different country. Being in many situations that he shouldn't have, Charlie heard other characters complaints that he understood but was able to pretend he didn't understand. Perreca developed Charlie into a phenomenal character that the rest of the common folk took in as one of their own.
Froggy, Betty (Emilie LaBonte), Rev. David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas), Catherine Simms (Emily Fletcher), Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick) and Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson) all shaped Charlie into a better person through all the excitement. Charlie helped Ellard by giving him more time than the rest of the characters typically did. Betty was astounded by having a “Foreigner” in her lodge and Charlie was even able to help Catherine see into her soon to be husbands insights. Perreca's objective to turn this into an extremely funny performance was achieved along with many more meanings.
Each and every character did an excellent job playing their part. They were all very easy to believe which made this performance fun and interesting to watch as an audience member. Every character played their part in their own humorous way which had all the people in the audience nearly crying with laughter in their seats. Although not receiving a standing ovation at the end of the performance, the clapping ceased to stop along with the whistling and cheers.
The set, lighting and costumes were also spot on for the performance. As for the costumes, they portrayed each character to be who they really are. Ellard's overalls showed his childish behavior while Betty's dress presented her as a typical housewife and caretaker. The lighting showed exactly what time of day it was and at times also showed the mood of many of the characters. The transition from dayling to evening was gradual and nearly unnoticeable which to say the least was phenomenal. All of these props made it feel as if you were in the lodge during this time period.
This is a play that is definitely worth attending. With all of its humor it will have you laughing till your stomach aches. Each and every character did a phenomenal job and deserved the applause they received. Perreca created an excellent performance full of laughter and meaning, a performance that taught everyone to accept people for who they are with a smile on your face.
The first thing noticed by the audience when walking into the Marshal Performing Arts Center for The Foreigner is the set. It was exceedingly well put together in style- everything on stage matching its counterparts, the impressive log cabin with tall staircase, and even the decorations off stage, such as the pine trees and fallen leaves. There were several seemingly-miniscule items that really reinforced the old-nature of the play, and the older woman who owned it. For instance, the blankets thrown over the back of the couch and recliner, the large amount of board games including Clue, Concentration, and Risk, the collection of spoons hanging on the wall, and the game animals and fish enhanced the country feel.
The first act opened with plenty of laughter, but second act succeeded the first with great superiority. The beginning of the show was slightly dragging, but once Betty was introduced, her excitement to have a friendly foreigner in her house was astounding- she gave an embellished act of what honestly happens to people by shouting louder to Charlie due to his language barrier, as well as dragging out his name, just to make sure Charlie knew Betty was talking to him.
The actors all played their characters remarkably well, though some shone above the others. Notably, Derik Iverson, who played the simple-minded boy Ellard Simms, was extraordinary. The costume he wore helped his character, with the poofy hair, overalls and striped shirts, but his free-flowing acting gave the aura of a real child, who follows his imagination over societal rules. The other actors seemed to have more strict acting to make sure everything was exactly as planned. Nonetheless, Emilie La Bonte acted out the old cabin-owner Betty Meeks believably- she seemed like a true older woman/grandmother-type figure. Her belief that she can all but read the mind of Charlie increases her maternal nature.
Although the play was a comedy- and packed full of it- it also had undercurrent more serious thoughts. Due to Charlie’s pretending to not know English, he found the personality in him that he had been telling Froggy of the yearning for one. Beyond himself, Charlie opened everyone’s eyes and gave them what was most needed for each character: for Betty, just the experience of having a foreigner at her house was one of her life’s dreams; Ellard was shown to have more brains than what was originally opened up to us at the beginning of the play, and with his wit, appreciation; both David and Owen’s façade was torn to reveal who they really were and their underlying motives; Catherine needed someone to vent to- which just happened to be perfect to have someone who couldn’t understand what she said- and at the end of the play, a good man to love. Froggy was simply thrown into an acting dilemma, which enriched the play.
The Foreigner was an outstanding success for both the director Michael Perreca, and for the UMD students and faculty who put on this play.
The Foreigner opened with a bang. The delightful show was full of an assortment of emotions with a cast that could pull the crowd in. When stepping into the theatre the audience got a taste for exactly what this show was going to be about. The stage was set up with a cabin/ cottage feel with knick knacks everywhere. Just by seeing the stage you already had a feel for the character who owned the home.
The home owner was Betty played by Emile LaBonte, and she was outstanding. She sold her role of being an old woman who lived out in the middle of nothing and hadn’t seen any more of the world then the tiny town she lived in, with her funny sense of humor and her sense of being so naïve to the world she was all around fun to watch. But she was not the only character that stole the stage; alongside her was Charlie Baker, played by Preston Grant. He was incredible! Grant’s character was supposed to be the “foreigner” and could not understand or speak English. Throughout the show he began learning English and it was simply hilarious. The way Grant pretended to be foreign was great and the gibberish he taught the other actors topped it off. He really knew the character he was supposed to be and did a fantastic job portraying it. The reason that Charlie Baker was a foreigner was because his pal Froggy played by Kevin Kiemen told Betty that he was from a different Country and to leave him be. This silly character assisted Charlie in convincing everyone to believe that he wasn’t from the area. Kiemen was a funny touch to the show. Another crowd pleaser character was Ellard, played by Derik Iverson. Ellard didn’t say too much throughout the show but the small amount he said and the body language he had on stage was outstanding. Ellard was how the characters said “stupid” and Iverson really had a gift of actually making us believe he didn’t have much up there in his head. It was just to die for, all the characters we very well trained with their accents and they all knew exactly what their character was supposed to be like. These actors definitely knew how to get the audience’s attention.
As well as fantastic actors, there was a great design crew. The lighting designer Paul Blakely had an eye for detail. He did a great thunder and lightning storm effect as well as little details such as the car head lights driving past the home, all around well done. The stage dressing was amazing, there were many people involved in the process of dressing the stage and they have a great eye for detail as well. There were things everywhere but for a purpose or to help the audience understand the characters better. Between cast and crew there was all around talent.
This show was just a blast to attend. The audience could feel the passion and connection that all of the actors and actresses had for this show. It was well done from every angle and every designer did exactly what they needed to have the audience believing they were actually there watching this story happen. Bravo to everyone who put on or was a part of this show. It was a definite success for UMD.
The Foreigner made an excellent first impression, the moment an audience member walked into the house the spectacle was warm, inviting and impressive. The stage design combined with the lights and sounds immediately set the tone. The audience was able to feel comfortable in the country home, filled with knick knacks and wall hangings that gave the place character without feeling cluttered or distracting from the storytelling. Taking place in the long ago time of house phones, the comfortable Georgia log cabin style home was comfortably lit and the sound of banjos and a good storm let the audience walk in sit down and become immersed in the play.
The Foreigner had a very solid story that was allowed to breath by a solid cast. With the introduction the audience was able to let their guard down and become involved with the characters. Right away two of the main characters were introduced, the optimistic Froggy LeSueur, played by Kevin Kiemen, and the troubled and anxious Charlie Baker, played by Preston Grant. Right away Kiemen and Grant were able to play with the parallel opposite personalities of these two characters, giving them depth and allowing the audience to take a liking to them. When Betty Meeks, played by Emilie LaBonte, was introduced, the whole set instantly made sense. Betty was an old fashioned southern lady with an accepting heart and an open mind; throughout the story her accepting nature is a visible paradox to the closed mindedness of some of the other characters and ideas represented in the play. The personalities of Rev. David Marshall Lee, played by Steven Douglas, Catherine Simms, played by Emily Fletcher, Owen Musser, played by Joshua Stenvick, and Ellard Simms, played by Derik Iverson, as well as those played by Kiemen, Grand and LaBonte, worked together to create a well developed story and along with the work of the director, Michael Perreca allowed the audience to accept the characters and get into the story.
The effectiveness of The Foreigner could be seen and heard in the audience. During the show the audience laughed loudly and at times people were on the edge of their seats. During intermission and after the performance people right away began to talk about what they had seen, when the show inspires the audience to discuss what they see it is effective and The Foreigner did just that. Perreca, along with the cast and crew, allowed the story to come off naturally and believable so that the audience could become involved in the story.
With all of the controversy that has surrounded UMD this year The Foreigner brought important and relevant discussion to those who saw it. The theme of this story and the ideas put forth by it show that the often overlooked foreign view brings perspective and without this diversity ideas are allowed to get out of control. The good story, combined with the hard work of a good cast in The Foreigner allowed the audience to be entertained and provoked thought and much needed discussion.
The Foreigner was very intriguing. It started out with two men coming to stay at Betty Meek's inn. The main character Charlie Baker being an odd man; didn't want to stay or talk but his friend Froggy convinced him to stay. Froggy started this little white lie about how Charlie was a foreigner. From there the play consisted of Charlie attempting to relax but he kept finding himself in the middle of sticky situations. These sticky situations would consist of watching the two faced Reverend David Lee plot to take the inn and use it for his selfish and ignorant plans. Charlie ends up being the "hero" of the story helping everyone not only be showing them the "evil" plots the Reverend had but showing each character they were something special. An example of this would be the relationship between Ellard and Charlie; Charlie showed everyone that Ellard was capable of more than they thought.
This play portrayed many story lines that intertwined with each other to create this creative, hilarious, intriguing story. From watching the relationship between Catherine and the Reverend disintegrate to the relationships that bloomed between Charlie and the others.
The set up was beautiful, the way the storms were portrayed was stunning; it was genius. The way each actor was placed with in the scenes was very affective, the director did a marvelous job. From the facial expressions to the accents; it was very entertaining.
The ending of The Foreigner left the audience hanging. There are many open questions like did Betty, Catherine, or Ellard ever find out Charlies real identity? Would they feel betrayed? Forgive him? Did he stay? Although it was very good the ending was just to open. The anticipation of waiting for the other shoe to drop was terrible but maybe that is what makes it intriguing. Even when the play is over the audience was still wondering what was going to happen next.
For a comedy The Foreigner was great, not many comedies are actually funny. So two thumbs up to Michael Perreca, she chose the right actors for the right parts. This made the play, each actor did a tremendous job portraying their characters. Round of applause to the actors and director of The Foreigner!
The Foreigner was a delightful experience. Although the show was one of the longer ones I've seen in a little while, it sure didn't feel that way. In just two Acts, seven actors and actresses were able to capture an audience's attention, sympathy, and love for the characters. Especially at the climax, when 'the clan' forcibly entered the lodge, it was easy to realize how much the audience cared for the group inside. They were frightened, nervous, and so relieved and happy when they group comes out on top in the end. Rounds of applause were heard again and again during their protagonists' triumphs, jokes, and witty remarks.
The play was wildly funny, most likely because of the unique mix of characters. In order of their appearance, "Froggy" was obviously the most adventurous and worldly of the group, which made the opening scene between himself and Charlie that much more amusing: Charlie's shyness mixed with "Froggy's" lively attitude. In fact, Charlie was not the most charismatic protagonist at the beginning of the play. His melodramatic behavior at the opening, however appropriate, was not amiable. As soon as he began 'pretending' his character took off and stayed as enjoyable and likable for the remainder of the play. Betty was as lovable as any of the protagonists, but in a more motherly sense. Her quirky attitude brought some more laughs to the table. Catherine seemed a little self-centered and close-minded, but when she opened up to Charlie became more relaxed and happier. Ellard obviously found some happiness in "teaching" Charlie some english. Before Charlie came into these character's lives, they seemed bleak. His involvement slowly impacted them all, if only for a few days time. The actors and actresses did a wonderful job of portraying this slowly and steadily throughout the plot line while the other two characters, Owen and David, were easy to hate. Both of these actors did a marvelous job of portraying their characters by making them easy to hate.
Because The Foreigner was so comedic, such a dramatic climax was expected. This is not to say that it didn't flow with the rest of the program. Their were still plenty of witty remarks and appropriate jokes to be made, but the audience was expecting something more like a confession, not an escalation reaching as far as a riot from the Ku Klux Klan. It was a frightful turn of events, but Charlie, Betty, Catherine and Ellard handled the situation cleverly and exactly as we would expect characters of their stature to confront such a serious problem.
The only part of the play that felt incomplete was the fact that Charlie, the foreigner, never came to terms with Betty, Catherine, or Ellard about his lie. On the other hand, I suppose he meant so much to them: Betty felt that Charlie brought meaning to her life again, Catherine could tell him her secrets, Ellard felt useful and smart. Like Charlie says, they "handed him his personality," in which case all four of them may have needed to depend on that lie.
Aside from the acting onstage and the story line from the script, the set and lighting were fantastic. The entire lodge was extremely detailed, including authentic looking magazines, numerous wall ornaments, costumes, and furniture from the early 80's. The lighting, especially during thunderstorms, was very impressive. The "sky" behind the lodge was extraordinarily believable.
Henry Pollan’s review of The Foreigner
The UMD theater departments’ production of the foreigner was delight to behold. Last Thursday night my fellow audience members and I crossed the threshold of the theater doors, and entered the early 1980’s Deep South. As sweet bluegrass tunes played me into my seat and set the mood and tone for most of what was soon to come I was awestruck by the beautifully crafted stage. This production was presented before one backdrop of the interior of an old resort’s lodge on a stage that had been turned about 45 degrees and extended out another 5 or feet.
There are seven primary characters in this play and they are the requisite hero, villain and assorted in-betweens.
Betty is the matron of the lodge, it is within the walls of her house that the audience is invited into see. She is a jovial old lady with a heart of gold. Although she hasn’t traveled much or experienced too much of the world away from her home town she is brimming with worldly wisdom and southern hospitality and charm. She is a throwback to Thelma Harper the loving yet stubbornly sensible star of the old television show Mama’s House. From the sassy attitude and southern drawl to her grey helmet looking hair these two characters could have been sisters. The play begins with the arrival of the two foreigners at Betty’s house. Froggy and Charlie are a pair of English gents who are visiting the States. Froggy is a demolition expert who is there to give a weekend seminar at an army base and Charlie his good friend has traveled along with him as a research assistant. Froggy is working and away from the lodge for much of the play so he enters and exits sparingly however he is a primary source of comedic interjections. Charlie is the protagonist, he begins the play as boring and very sad as his character develops we learn that he is traveling with Froggy because his cheating wife is ill and he needs the distraction. He is quickly thrust into the insanity of the story when Froggy misinterprets his request to be left alone. Froggy tells Betty and her guests that he a foreigner who doesn’t speak any English and that he is to be treated well but not spoken with. The other guests at Betty’s lodge are the villainous reverend, his fiancée Catherine Simms and her brother Ellard. Although the reverend initially comes off as a good guy we later learn of his plot to not only swindle betty’s home from her but also to start a white Christian nation with the aid of his clan friend Owen Musser, who is the crooked building inspection. Initially the Catherine comes off as very lady Macbeth-ish however she redeems herself many times over in the later parts of the story. Her little brother Ellard is a lesser protagonist and foil who helps spoil the clan’s plans, save his sister from marrying the wrong man and pulls Charlie out of his shell. These are the primary characters and those were their roles in the story.
This is an overall feel good production. If you don’t leave the theater after seeing this play in a good or at least better mood than you were in before, you must be made of stone. I smiled from the time the lights went up till they went down and then for some time afterwards. The Foreigner is a classic good versus evil story with a morel, it is full of solid belly shaking laughs and cold sweat inducing suspense. UMD’s recent production was masterfully executed, with beautiful sets, sounds, lights, and costumes. The Casting was perfect, I was particularly impressed by the actors who played Betty and Ellard. Their performances were inspiring and entertaining. This play is a must see and I highly recommend it to everyone.
The showing of The Foreigner on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 was “real good”. From the acting to the costumes and scenery to the lighting and sound; it was all phenomenal. It was a comical show, and the audience was laughing from the beginning all the way to the end.
I did not notice a single flaw in the acting. I’m not saying the actors performed perfectly; however, any mistakes they did make were not noticeable at all. All seven actors stayed in character through the entire play, and they were all believable. Emilie LaBonte, who played Betty Meeks, played a convincing old lady. She walked like an old lady, talked like an old lady, and treated the other characters as a sweet old lady would. Each of the characters had their own accent, or way of talking, that made them unique. Derik Iverson, who played Ellard Simms, applied a strong accent (“fow-work”) to all his lines and didn’t lose it through the whole show.
The relationship between each of the characters was clear, and it was easy to understand when the relationships were changing. Catherine Simms, played by Emily Fletcher, was engaged to Rev. David Marshall Lee, played by Steven Douglas, in the beginning of the play. Throughout the course of the play, though, she found out what David was really like and didn’t want to be with him anymore. She thought that Charlie Baker, played by Preston Grant, was such a great person to tell all her problems to because he didn’t understand a word she was saying, so she thought. After all their walks and talks, she began to fall for Charlie. Even with all the commotion in her life, it was simple for the audience to follow her emotions.
The scenery was very detailed, but effective. It did not take away from the story in any way. All the little trinkets hanging on the walls added to Betty’s character. It helped show that she has lived in that lodge for a long time, and it meant a lot to her. The trees outside made it seem like it was in a more rural area and helped you imagine what the area was like.
There were many different effects in this show that added to the ambiance of the scenes. The flashing lights and the sound of thunder all around the theatre made it appear like it was really storming on stage. The big flash of light along with the loud boom made it seem as if the van really exploded right behind the house. The trap door added to the play as well. It was surprising to see Ellard fall right through the stage.
I don’t have any complaints about this show. The talented actors, the elaborate scenery and costumes, and the excellent sound and lighting all worked together to make the story come to life. The Foreigner was definitely worth seeing!
Arriving at the Marshall Performing Arts Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth for the second showing of The Foreigner written by Larry Shue and directed by Michael Perreca, a notable New York director. I encountered a long ticket line. Being a Friday night and the second showing of the play I was surprised to see the diversity of the theatregoers. After patiently waiting for my ticket I was directed to my seat where I looked out onto the play and found it off kilter and highly decorated into a humble but cheery cabin. After a short time of admiring the scenery a young woman talking in a southern accent reminded us turn off our cell phones and the play began.
The lights came on in the humble cabin and created a pleasant, warm atmosphere where Froggy played by Kevin Kiemen and Charlie played by Preston Grant seek shelter from a very convincing thunderstorm. Froggy a soldier in the army that likes explosions brought Charlie a shy and nervous Englishman to relax at Betty Meeks played by Emilie LaBonte bed and breakfast lodge. The audience soon finds out why Charlie is so nervous and his wish for a nice, relaxing vacation where he does not have to talk to anybody. Froggy promises that his stay at the lodge will be comfortable and without conversation. However, things don’t go as plan once Betty and the other guest find out there’s a real, live foreigner in the house and he doesn’t understand English; which is lie Froggy told everybody so Charlie can have a comfortable stay.
Hilarity ensues as Charlie finds out the plans of Rev. David Marshall Lee played by Steven Douglas the fiancé of a rich guest staying at the lodge and redneck Owen Musser played by Joshua Stenvick to take over Betty’s property so they can use it for a KKK lodge. Because everybody besides Froggy thinks Charlie can’t speak English, Charlie resorts to speaking in gibberish and nonsense words to communicate with them. The most hilarious part of the play was when Charlie was telling caring and easily excited Betty, rich, slightly stuck up debutante Catherine played by Emily Fletcher, and her slow-witted brother Ellard played by Derik Iverson a story in his “native” language. This had the audience laughing throughout the scene and we could feel the warmth from the characters getting closer and transforming from their previous unhappy and misunderstood lives to people that the audience deeply care for, as seen towards the climax of the play when the KKK decides to visit the lodge. The audience was fearful and was worrying right along with the characters when the loud noises and fire from touches could be seen from the window.
This play has a cast of lively, lovable, and unique characters. Each character was performed brilliantly and believably. Kieman was amiable and it was a shame he didn’t show up more in the play because when he did it always made the scene a little funnier. Grant was adorable as the geeky Charlie and his vocal and facial expressions were hilarious. LaBonte was wonderful, hilarious, heartwarming, and strong. Out of all the characters her performance was the audiences’ favorite. Douglas and Stevnick were convincing as the comedic villains that were still dislikable. Fletcher did a wonderful job transforming the bratty and not so likable Catherine into a strong and caring woman and last but not least, Iverson who did an excellent job playing Ellard with his slow speech and dopey looks but wasn’t offensive at all. It was very sweet watching him light up while “teaching” Charlie English.
The Foreigner is a fantastic play and a joy to watch. It’s filled with beautiful characters inside and out. The cast is dressed in charming and attractive clothes. The scenery is amusing to look at such as the deer butt over the upstairs landing. The lighting and sound is extremely effective and set the mood especially at the end dealing with the Revered and the KKK. There are tons of laughs to be had and lessons to be learned. If you get the opportunity go see The Foreigner.
“Is that… is that a deer butt above the door?” several people muttered in the crowd whilst pointing and laughing.
On first appearance, University of Minnesota’s production of The Foreigner was already laying down a hilarious first impression. Whether it be the mounted deer butt above the door, or the array of clutter strewn about the place, one could tell it was going to be a very comical show. Added to this humorous scenery, other fantastic uses of the theater itself were brought into perspective to create an ambiance that we were no longer in northern Minnesota, but rather in the hills of Georgia. The thunderstorm that was created sounded authentic and the lightning in the background really helped set the mood. The thrust stage also was a great utilization, bringing the show closer to the audience and producing a great feel of intimacy between the actors and the audience. Betty also gave the audience a wonderful preview of the comical dialect when she gave the opening address.
As the characters are introduced, we get a feel for each of their backgrounds. The shy main character, Charlie, is a friend of Sgt. “Froggy” LeSueur and is staying at the somewhat obnoxious Betty’s cabin along with the hilariously dim-witted Ellard and his sister, Catherine. The true humor doesn’t really start until Froggy leaves and Charlie is left with the others for three days. Later, the Catherine’s soon-to-be husband Rev. David Marshall Lee is introduced (as well as his hidden agenda) along with his racist, red-necked friend Owen. From Froggy’s wild accent to Ellards foolish antics, each actor portrayed their respective character fantastically. Though some of the dialogue was lost to their accents occasionally, it was fantastic all the same.
It was very clear that director Michael Perreca really wanted to take this classic play by Larry Shue and give it a personal feel to it. Perreca managed to continue to make this play as humorous as ever, but at the same time he managed to convey an underlying meaning. This whole play was primarily focused on the effect an outsider has when he comes to a new area, but at the same time it showed how the main character Charlie develops from this shy character into a charismatic, talkative person. This was demonstrated exceptionally well when Charlie has to retell a story from his “homeland” and improvises completely on the spot.
The climax of the play was when the KKK came for Charlie who thought up a plan for the family to thwart them. The effects used in this scene were truly amazing. The torch light cast from the KKK members as they approached the house brought a huge sense of suspense. When Ellard “melts” into the floor of the set through the trap door, the audience instantly burst into applause. The coup de grace really was when Froggy entered with his explosive kit and blew the escape van up. The combination of the lighting effects and sound effects once again brought applause from the audience, and for good reason. The UMD production of The Foreigner was phenomenally done and overall was a success.
The Foreigner which took place at the University of Minnesota Duluth was simply an incredible production. The play was performed on the Mainstage Theatre in the Marshall Performing Arts Center which appeared to be a perfect fit for what this play had in store. Michael Perreca who directed The Foreigner deserves two thumbs up for this all around entertaining play.
The set of the foreigner was defiantly something to recognize. It was obvious that a lot of thought went into creating the stage. Curtis Phillips was the scenic designer for the play and he did a remarkable job. When audience members walked into the theatre for the first time their eyes lit up at the amusing stage. The stage appeared to look as a cabin and was equipped with just about everything a real house would have. The stage was fairly large as well and the actors did a great job making sure the whole stage got used. The set of this play really set a positive mood and made the performance comforting to the audience members. Another aspect of the play which really helped set the mood was the sound and lights. The lights and sound effects were so believable during the storm scenes and also when the Ku Klux Klan boys came. It felt like you were actually experiencing what was happening right alongside the actors. Also the costumes of this play had a big effect on the audience. All of the outfits that were worn fit the role being played and it made the production even more convincing as the play went on.
Betty Meeks was one individual who made her presence known on the stage. Betty played the owner of the lodge and was a very kind and gentle woman who you couldn’t get enough of. Betty was played by Emilie LaBonte and this is one actress that made the performance. Betty was so humorous and she did it so naturally, with her performance nothing was pushed and it was nearly flawless. Betty spent most of her time yelling at her foreign friend Charlie. Charlie played the role of a foreigner that didn’t talk much but by the end of the play that’s all he was doing. Charlie also played a very laughable role by pretending not to speak English when in reality he was very fluent. Charlie got himself into some sticky situations but always got things to work out. He was a character that won over the audience by the end of the play. Ellard Simms was another character worth mentioning. Ellard played a sweet innocent boy who was being portrayed as rather dumb by another character named Owen. Ellard proves himself to be smart and capable when he teaches the foreigner Charlie how to speak English. Ellard captured the heart of the audience just by being so gentle. In the play Ellard had an accent and it was so realistic and genuine.
Overall The Foreigner was incredible. The set was amazing and was very well thought out. The actors were extremely convincing and did a remarkable job. Every aspect of The foreigner had something worth recognizing and it was so entertaining. The Foreigner was a phenomenal performance and received such positive feedback with a hysterically laughing audience. Two thumbs way up to the astounding cast, designers, and directors.
UMD’s production of The Foreigner succeeded in delivering constant laughter to the audience throughout the entire show. The director, Michael Perreca, the actors, and the characters they played provided a wonderful base for an immensely funny performance.
Being set in rural Georgia, the play starts out by introducing the audience to the foreigner known as Charlie Baker (Preston Grant), an uptight, “worry-wart” kind of character that was so afraid of having any type of conversation that he decided to make the southerners that are hosting him believe that he does not speak English. Betty Meeks (Emilie LaBonte) is the stereotypical southern woman who has the foreigner stay at her house. The laughter began immediately when Betty Meeks was first introduced to the foreign Charlie Baker. Instead of not talking to him she did the opposite and wanted to know more and more about him. Every time she talked to Charlie, she would not simply talk, she would yell as if he were deaf.
The laughs were even abundant when the audience was introduced to Ellard (Derik Iverson). Another character that loved to talk to Charlie, Ellard was seen as a simpleton and was portrayed in that exact fashion. He brought out most of the laughter throughout the show because of his simple ways in which he taught Charlie English words and emphasized that they all must be said with a southern accent. So instead of teaching Charlie to say “lamp”, he taught him to say “la-yump”. This being applied to all of the words that he taught him during the play kept the audience bubbling with laughter.
Further adding to the hilarity of characters in this play was Reverend David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas), and Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick). Rev. David Marshall Lee wanted nothing more than to take Betty Meeks house and turn it into a KKK headquarters, with Owen’s help. Owen, a bad-tempered southern redneck, brought even more hysterics to the play with his unique encounters with Charlie. Owen, being a KKK member himself, talked down to Charlie as if he were dumb. But Charlie, and the audience, got the last laugh when he used his foreigner status to scare Owen into believing that he was some kind of weird voo-doo witch doctor not to be messed with. Grant delivered the audience even more laughs when he, Charlie, tried to teach Rev. Lee and Owen a language lesson in his made up “foreign” language. Rather than receiving a lesson, both of these characters, mainly Owen, were picked on and made fun of by Charlie.
The laughs were plentiful throughout the entire performance. The characters that were brought to life by the actors were each original and unique, and each had their own way of making the audience laugh. Accompanying the hilarity of the characters, the set design and the costume designs added greatly to the success of this production. Not only was The Foreigner hilarious and silly, but it also kept the audience guessing on what was going to happen next and kept their full attention on the performance.
The Foreigner from director Michael Perreca was a very exciting and outstanding play from the beginning. The excitement all started before the first act, Betty came out and gave the theatre announcements while making the whole audience laugh. Having seen the theatre announcements, the audience was set up for a great play and an enjoyable night at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Theatre. When first walking into the main stage theatre the scene set the mood for what the production was going to be like. The set was an amazing little cozy lodge/cottage out of a town in Georgia.
The first act began with a convincing thunderstorm. From the lighting to the sounds, the audience felt like they were actually sitting through a storm. However, at the beginning of the production it seemed like it took awhile to get it going and to really understand what the storyline was all about. The audience was introduced to Froggy and Charlie and their dialogue was amusing, however, their first discussion was almost boring and didn’t seem to be able capture the audience. Once Betty was introduced the entertainment really began. Betty was a hilarious and wonderful character. She really set up what her character type was and she even set up what the production was going to be like. David and Catherine were the newlywed couple. David was the reverend that tried a little too hard to do good when really he was a two faced character shown to the audience later in the production. Catherine was the debutant heiress, who seemed a little snobby at the beginning but then slowly started to become one of the beloved characters. Ellard, an innocent and kindhearted character, was at first shown as the troublemaker that everyone had to kind of “put up with,” but by the middle of the production, Ellard was one of the standout characters that really helped The Foreigner’s story go.
The Foreigner was set up as a comedy and even though it was very humorous most of the time, it did have its serious moments. The production gave out a great message. As the main character Charlie, a saddened, almost depressed character was left alone at the lodge without Froggy; everyone else thought he was a true foreigner that could not speak any English. Betty thought she was the one person that could connect with Charlie, Catharine would tell Charlie all of her deepest secrets not knowing he actually understands her, and Ellard was one of the most developing characters, alongside Charlie. Knowing that Ellard is very misunderstood, Charlie pretends to learn English from Ellard and by the end of the production Charlie is able to speak English to the rest of the cast, making Ellard look like the true teacher and also making everyone else see just how wonderful is.
By the end of the production Charlie and Ellard saved the day, Betty got to keep her lodge, David was gone and everyone was happy. From the set, lighting and cast. The production of The Foreigner was magnificent production. Everything in the set was very creative and detailed. It really pulled the audience in as if they were staying in the lodge as well. Overall The Foreigner was marvelous and a must see theatre production, two thumbs up to the UMD Theater Department for putting on this wonderful play.
One of the first things I noticed about the production as I took my seat in MPAC was the set. I had seen it before for a class, but never had closely examined it, and as I waited for the play to begin, I did just that. All of it was amazingly put together, down to the littlest detail. The coffee table propped up by books, the magazines, the wall hangings, and even the chandeliers were just right. It didn't feel like I was looking at a set for a play at all, actually. It felt authentic and exactly like a place one might find themselves in in reality.
So, with such a fine first impression, I expected the performance to be just as fantastic. And was it ever!
The first act moved a little slowly and I found myself letting my mind wander and not paying attention. Even though first acts of plays normally begin similarly, the actors made up for it by giving their character introductions everything they had.
Each character's own accent and dialect was spot on. Not hugely overdone, but comical and identifiable. With the hilarious and brilliant exception of Ellard (Derik Iverson), of course. Froggy's (Kevin Kiemen's) Cockney accent seemed to have a little confusion in some parts holding its own within a sea of Southern accents, but it did the job well, considering the circumstances.
The second act was knee-slapping hilarious. All of it. From when Charlie (Preston Grant)makes up a story in his "native" language to when Froggy blows up the KKK van with his detonation device, it kept the audience glued and laughing.
In between the funny moments of the play arose a likeability in each of the characters that made you feel affection for them. There were moments during the performance that I wanted to jump down from the balcony, run onstage and give at least one of the characters a gigantic hug. I really felt for them -- especially at the climax, when the residents of the lodge must defend themselves and Charlie against the KKK, led by a man they thought they could trust. The effects used there were also impressive, from the sounds and lights used during the "spell," to the explosion of the van outside.
The Foreigner was technically, artistically, visually, and wonderfully brilliant. I wish I could have gone to see it again, and I have a strong feeling that most of the audience did too.
The Foreigner was a very exquisite performance. It made the audience laugh a lot, kept their attention, and kept them curious of what was going to happen next. The Foreigner set was creative and very detailed; however the detailed stage didn’t take away from the actors. This performance was a success in what the director wanted from the performers, the set crew, and the light crew. The performers were in character very well like they were actually in the time of 1983. The set was beautiful and detailed to what was a cabin was pictured like in 1983. The simple things like the table from the leg replaced with books, a stove that was old looking and place in the house, and the color of the wood to make the scene look old. The lights were amazing; especially, when there was supposed to be a thunderstorm the color in the background and the flickering lights made the scene. When the KKK was coming to get the four non-members that were in the house, the lights flashed like there was a vehicle and then flash lights coming up to the door. All in all, without all three of these main things the play wouldn’t have been as good.
The play script seemed quite hard for the foreigner guy to memorize with all of the “foreign” language he had to memorize. He nailed the part when he had to tell the people in the house a story, because the audience understood most of the crazy language, but there were also some parts where they had to fill in the blank. This play was a must see according to all of the audience’s laughs, attention grasping, and amazement of the performance.
The Foreigner, produced by UMD, was genuinely funny and dramatic and entailed every bit of suspense an audience could ask for. The play starts in Georgia in 1983. It takes place in a lodge that is a few hours out from Atlanta.
The play opens with “Froggy” (Kevin Kieman) and Charlie (Preston Grant) entering into the lodge and hoping they could stay for a few days. “Froggy” was an old friend of the owner, Betty (Emile LaBonte), so he figured he could just walk on in. The first fifteen minutes seemed to take forever. There was humor, but it was not executed well. The dialect of … was at some times really hard to understand and at first it almost seemed like … was overacting. Once LaBonte entered, the ball started rolling a bit. Charlie is too shy to talk to anyone so “Froggy” lets it slip that Charlie’s a foreigner to Betty. Betty becomes eagerly excited to meet and greet this foreign specimen; the expressiveness of LaBonte showed the audience just how excited Betty was. Once this took place, the audience finally started getting into the show. “Froggy” left and Charlie came out from hiding and was discovered by Betty. The real hilarity begins when LaBonte and Grant start having “conversations.” Since, Charlie doesn’t understand English Betty finds it absolutely necessary to yell everything she says to him. Grant’s facial expressions during these parts are the best and he is actually a very convincing foreign man. The lodge is also occupied by Reverend David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas), Catherine Simms (Emily Fletchers), and Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson). The reverend and Catherine are engaged and Ellard is Catherine’s younger and “not the brightest bulb on the tree” brother. The reverend of course seems to be a good hearted man, this was executed excellently by Douglas, but when he is with Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick) alone [with Charlie in the room], his good heart and godly ways take a turn for the worse. Plans between Lee and Musser are revealed in front of Charlie, because they don’t think he understand English. These plans consist of marrying Catherine, taking her money, making Ellard look stupid and very misbehaved, and kicking Betty out of her lodge to make it their own “KKK lounge.”
The acting in the play was very well done. The most impressive out of all the players was Iverson’s performance as Ellard. He had the big childish eyes, the clumsy-ness, the “stupidity” and the funniest dialect through the show. Ellard start to be big hearted and headed, when he thinks he’s teaching Charlie to speak and read English and do other daily activities, like eat. There was not a dull moment when Iverson was on the stage. However, the comic climax of the show was Charlie’s retelling of his favorite “homeland story.” He spoke in his native tongue and pantomimed throughout the whole thing. This story was around 3 minutes long and was basically spoken in near English gibberish. Grant made all of MPAC applaud after his story was finished. Not only was it funny to hear him speak, it was funny to watch him speak too. The foreigner truly shined at this moment.
The lighting and the set are fantastic. The old lodge looks just like you would imagine an old ladies house to look like. All the walls are covered in random stuff that represents the area they live in and who the characters all are. This was all put together by Curtis Phillips. The set was breathtaking. The set would not have looked to good if it hadn’t lit well. The lighting for this show was more than expected. The show starts with a storm and the background lights’ simulation of lighting was spot on and made it actually as if it were raining backstage. At one point in the play, the power is cut from the lodge and all the bulbs on stage go out, but the lighting of the scene stayed the same. This was bothersome because the lodge should have gotten a bit darker. The mistake was fixed in the next scene when the lights are dimmed way lower because the power is still out. Overall, the two components tied the show together very well.
There are moments of this show where there is laughter, applauding and giggles, but there is one moment of the show that took everyone’s breath away. It was nerve-racking, it gave everyone chills, it was… the Klan. The Ku Klux Klan shows up to try a take away Charlie and take over the lodge. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, nervous to see how the Klan would be represented by the actors, the writer and director, but mainly because they were worried as to what was going to happen to the characters they grew to love within the last two hours. The director’s representation of the Klan was not disappointing and ended exactly how everyone wanted it to.
The Foreigner was a great play to see. The actors were great, the set and lights were awesome and the directors take on some of humor and edginess really made this show as great as it was.
UMD's production of the Foreigner has to be one of the funniest plays of the season. It had it all, humor, suspense, and drama. The play takes the audience back to rural Georgia in 1983 where most of the wacky events unfold. The set itself was build so great, that it made the audience feel that they were in the backwoods themselves. The use of real trees really brought out that rustic feel that was need for this play.
The play begins with the character "Froggy" taking his friend Charlie on a little get away while his cheating wife is ill in the hospital. Arriving at the inn, Charlie pleads with Froggy to let him come with but Froggy insists that he stay and enjoy himself. However, Charlie has a bit of a problem finishing sentences or making conversation with anyone. So, Froggy talks to his long time friend and owner of the inn, Betty, and explains to her that Charlie is a Foreigner from a different country and speaks no English and best left alone. But the opposite happens and the zany story unfolds.
The goal of this production was to make the audience feel like a piece of this zany journey that the characters partake in and it did a great job in doing it. From Charlie's story of his home country, to Charlie and Ellard's English "lessons," the humor was never missing. Another key component to the success of this play was the lightning design. The designer thought about everything when he thought about the Foreigner. From the lightning at the begining of the first act, to the power outage in the last act. It was all just brilliant thinking on his part. Not to give him all the credit, but the lightning really brought the setting alive.
All in all, the Foreigner was a terrific display of acting and design prowess.
Hilarious, Shocking, and Speechless are all words that describe the performance of The Foreigner at the University of Minnesota- Duluth.
The story of The Foreigner starts off about a man named Charlie who has a talking problem and doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone that is staying at Betty Meeks’s place. Froggy and Charlie make up a large lie that Charlie is a foreigner so that Charlie won’t have to talk to anyone. At first Charlie was skeptical of the idea and then it started growing on him as the production went on.
The Foreigner was hilarious. There wasn’t a time when the audience wasn’t laughing. Preston Grant (Charlie) did a wonderful job of playing the part of a “foreigner”. The language he used along with the funny and interesting non-verbal communication that was used made the production a hit. Derik Iverson who played Ellard Simms in the performance made the entire audience feel what he was feeling. When Reverend David (Steven Douglas) was putting him down and making Ellard feel stupid, the audience could feel what Ellard was feeling which was a job was well done by Derik Iverson (Ellard). The other actors and actresses did a great job in helping Derik and Preston make the audience laugh and enjoy the production.
A round of applause goes out to the designer of the set along with the lighting and sounds in the production. The set was done wonderfully and had a very cabin like feel to it, which was perfect for this production. The part of the stage that had a trap door in it was very cool to see at a UMD Theatre production. That trap door really brought a whole other element to the play that made it spectacular. The lighting design done by Paul Blakely was a wonderful aspect to the production. The sky behind the house looked exactly like a real sky, but it obviously wasn’t. Also, the lights diming and the spot light that was one the lift drew your attention away from everything else and focused on that one spot on the stage, which was exactly what Paul was trying to accomplish. The Sounds in the play were perfect and spot on to sound like a real bomb, or a thunderstorm, as if it was actually going on. The timing of the sounds was also, spot on. No delay or confusion from the audience when a sound went off. The sounds of the play were done by Nick Gosen, and he did a great job on them.
The shocking part of this play was that it’s wasn’t so much about how Charlie is a foreigner but about the secrets that were being unraveled during the production. Yes, at the end of the play the secrets were told but, it wasn’t because Charlie told them. You can’t believe everything that you hear is a lesson that everyone can take away from after seeing this production. The characters in this play all trusted Charlie because of something that they heard, but in reality Charlie knew exactly what they were saying all along. Yes, Charlie didn’t rat out the characters about the secrets that were told to him but instead twisted things around so the secrets were told by the people who were keeping them.
Anyone that likes funny and shocking stories would love The Foreigner; it is a great story and is well definitely acted out very well. Definitely go see The Foreigner at UMD!
The Foreigner was an unbelievably awesome play and was very well directed. From an artistic point of view, the characters made their parts 110% believable but, the beginning of the play wasn’t so great. For the first 10 minutes or so the dialogue seemed very dry and boring. It was as though the audience couldn’t help but move every few seconds to keep from falling asleep. After this first phase though, is when the entire audience, for the rest of the performance, was kept on the edge of their seats.
Each of the actors and actresses presented their characters astonishing well. For example, Derik Iverson, as “Ellard”, was unsurpassed at making his character believable. He showed strong poise in Ellard and made the audience trust in him. Ellard wasn’t a very intelligent character but the way Iverson played his part was pure intelligence. After Ellard put the glass on his head and Charlie mimicked him, Betty was mad. She thought Ellard was making fun of a ritual or belief of Charlie’s. When Ellard was getting into trouble with Betty he acted upset but let her impose her frustration. Iverson acted exceptionally well at this point and as well when he was “teaching” Charlie English.
Emilie LaBonte, as “Betty”, also played her character very well. Throughout the play, she was the kind-hearted, “mother figure” who cared about everyone and was very hospitable. There was a point where all of the characters were onstage and Charlie was teaching them. Something Charlie said got everyone laughing and Betty’s laugh was so believable that the audience could barely keep from rolling on the ground. Her laugh seemed almost as if she were about to cry from laughing so hard.
Another actor that performed phenomenally was Preston Grant, as “Charlie”. He presented the struggles of pretending to be a foreigner with ease. He was confident in Charlie and made it apparent that he understood his role in the play. In the beginning of the play, Grant was more of an uninteresting character, bland and very unoriginal. One of the best examples of Grant’s phenomenal acting was when Iverson was attempting to teach Grant English because it changed Grant’s character. Grant imitated each word and act that Iverson was teaching him and made an effort to pronounce the words using Iverson’s accent. This strategy brought about a comical side to Charlie that changed how the audience had originally seen him and made him more of a likeable and funny character.
The Foreigner was a fantastic and must-see play. From a personal view, the play was very well worth attending. The Foreigner taught the lesson of optimism. No matter how tough were the struggles Charlie was facing, he realized he needed to keep an optimistic outlook on life and also that life can be in your control with a positive attitude. These actors presented their parts beautifully and really emphasized the need to experience the comical and optimistic side in life.
The Foreigner done by the UMD theatre was definitely a work worth viewing. From the set design to the lighting and sound to the acting every piece fit together so wonderfully.
The set certainly felt like a cabin someone could live in. particularly interesting was the random assortment of objects on the wall that were entertaining by themselves yet did not distract from any of the actors.
Lighting and sound worked together in this performance. The delay between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder gave it a fantastic realistic experience. The most entertaining was the realistic flash and sound of the explosion. If the audience had felt a concussive force knock them back in their seats they would have believed it to be a real explosion.
Each actor did such an amazing job of capturing the unique personalities of their characters. The entertaining “Froggy” LeSueur played by Kevin Kiemen did a wonderful job of being the out-going and loyal friend to the shy and worrisome Charlie Baker played by Preston Grant. Emilie LaBonte was spectacular as the eccentric and fun-loving Betty Meeks, the owner of the cabin and friend of Froggy. The Rev. David Marshall Lee played by Steven Douglas is suburb at pretending to be the nice guy to Catherine Simms, played by Emily Fletcher, his soon to be wife but really being the villain plotting with Owen Musser, a redneck member of the KKK, to take Betty’s cabin for their “invisible empire.” Lastly there is Ellard Simms, the simple brother of Catherine, played by Derik Iverson, who takes it upon himself to “teach” Charlie English. Together they put on a production that is light-hearted and funny and in one scene heart-pounding and tense.
With the set, the lighting and sound and finally the actors each fulfilling their roles wonderfully are put together in this fantastic production that is entertaining and fun even during the darker parts. If given the opportunity this is a play that many would see again.
The Foreigner was a very good production in my mind. It was only the second play that I have seen this semester and even in my whole life, but it had a very professional look and feel to it. Some of the prospectives that were brought out into this play were the goofy, funny things that would happen to the main character Charlie. The actors that they chose to pick they play were very good, I could see myself standing in the room with Froggy and Charlie and believing that they were real people with the real problems that they faced. Another thing that impressed me a lot and was very realistic was the scenery all around the stage. I loved how they put real trees to show the distinction of living in the woods as opposed to the city. The things that they had decorating the lodge was looked and had a very home-style real life feel to it, and knowing that some of the stuff is actually from some of the actors homes or personal belongings it is very cool to see them in a production. Something that really caught my eye was the lighting of the play. I loved how they made the lighting on the trees; it made them look so alive. Also the lighting that they had in the main part to the stage was in my mind very good. The way they had the whole stage lit up but you could tell that it was very precise. Also like when the lightning came into effect and the way they made that was amazing plus adding the thunder sound.
Exceptional. This is something that The Foreigner strived to be, and it succeeded in doing so. The Foreigner was a play that took imagination and reality and blended them together beautifully. It was a play that made you realize things are seldom what they seem. The Foreigner became like an onion to watch, slowing peeling away at what you think things are supposed to be and then revealing what they truly are. The combination of the playwright’s, Larry Shue, gentle comedic style and the director’s, Michael Perreca, personal flare, makes this play utterly unique.
The set for The Foreigner was the first thing that the audience was supposed to notice when they walked into the theater. It was an elaborate set, with decorations that placed the audience into the time and the place of the play. It was built like the inside of the house and it was like nothing the UMD Theater has ever done before. The only thing that someone might consider changing about the set would be the visibility of some of the character while on stage. With authentic furs on the walls, a working staircase and rooms, and even a trap door the play in nicely with the play. The furniture and the main part of the stage was purposely placed off center so that the audience got a wacky feeling for the play right as they walked in. As stated earlier the playwright has a very quirky and comedic nature about him and so as an artist the director was trying to capture Shue’s witty nature and place it right into the heart of the play. This was greatly done and it helped to make the audience realize humor was the main way that Shue and Perreca were going present their ideas.
By having humor as the focal point of the story it made for a very capturing play. Not only was the set quirky and fun but the actors were so humors and convincing on their own that it really put this production over the top. You could tell that the actors put their whole heart and soul into their performances because they were so convincing. The one thing that could be more convincing though would be the character southern flare. The actors did a nice job at achieving a decent southern accent, but by perfecting their mannerisms it would have took that performance to a new level. Charlie Baker was nerdy and supposedly “boring” but his made up country and language set the scene for many of the humorous numbers. Ellard Simms was a character that was portrayed as the character that did really “get it” all of the time. His sister Catherine thought that he was dumb at the beginning of the play because of the way he acted and talked, but then her views changed and she considered him intelligent by the end of the play because he taught Charlie, the foreign person, how to read. The characters were so convincing that the audience was continuously laughing and they felt like they were really in the heart of Georgia. Because of the actors exceptional performance the humorous ideas and themes couldn’t have been achieved much better.
The attempt that these actors and artists made towards this play was extraordinary. The very humorous acting and the elaborate witty set design made the audience urge for more. They stayed devoted to this production all the way to the end, and even wanting more. Even the set made people truly think and feel for the production. The time and effort that went into the play was definitely worth the effort. It was also with it for the audience members to attend this production because it had a great balance between the fun nature of the humor and the serious nature of the story. The Foreigner focused on a character that pretended to be foreign in household full of strangers, and in the end he creates a backlash towards the house for taking in someone unlike them. It hit home to some of the different issues that we have had going on within UMD’s campus on the last month or so, pertaining to the multicultural center especially. It was a production the created talk and interest about the topic of diversity which many people in the community doesn’t exist anymore.
Overall The Foreigner became something the intrigued its audience. It was a production that had exceptional acting that connected with the audience, and a quirky set design that added to the effect of the story. It was something that created conversation amongst its guests and brought up relevant issues in today society. And most of all it kept people want more from the theater.
From beginning to end,The Foreigner, proved to be a hilarious production worth seeing. The message of acceptance of other cultures and the appreciation of that diversity was clear throughout. The director, the actors and the members of the technical staff clearly worked extremely hard to make every aspect of The Foreigner great.
Michael Perreca's direction made The Foreigner the strong production that it was. His perspective on the show made it that much more powerful. By placing the set off kilter, he managed to add to the show's overall feeling of craziness. The smallest details of the knick knacks crammed house to make the audience believe that it was a cozy little cottage, adding to the audience's suspension of disbelief. Michael Perreca's choices of actors proved to also be of great asset to to production as well.
It was obvious that each actor worked very diligently to understand their characters in depth. They understood how each would react to a certain situation, to another character's lines, and to the set itself. One thing that each of the actors very well was show that their characters, save for David and Owen, grew from avoiding Charlie to accepting and loving him as a person and not just some exotic "foreigner." Betty, Charlie, Froggy, Catherine and Ellard all were excellent with comic timing and the development of their characters. Charlie's transformation from a man who can't stand even small talk to telling elaborate stories in a language he himself was inventing, was performed incredibly by the actor. Catherine's switch from being rude to everyone in the house to being a loving sister and very amiable person was portrayed wonderfully by the actress. This became a solid foundation for the rest of the production. It is an difficult task to play the villain and give the audience something that they can hate. And whether that was the brash and openly hateful nature of the character Owen or the cool and cunning David, one could feel the audience's great dislike of both the characters. The actors did an exemplary job of portraying these characters and having good villains is always great icing to any production.
The technical aspect of the show was mind boggling. Each minute detail that must have taken hours to achieve were simply phenomenal. The beautiful log cabin was expertly designed and look like a cabin that would be in the woods somewhere. The parts hanging from the ceiling looked as though they were also made from wood even though, I found, they were actually made of Styrofoam. The lights and sound were excellent and added to the audience's belief that they were indeed in a little fishing cabin. The atmosphere was amazing for the setting.
Overall, The Foreigner was a hilarious romp with an excellent message of acceptance and appreciation of "foreigners." Every aspect from the direction to the acting to the technical support was sublime and it helped the show to become that much more hilarious and powerful. From beginning to the end this play was chock full of laughs, love, and a whole lot of craziness.
“The Foreigner” was definitely the show so nice I saw it twice. It was chock-full of hilarity, intensity, and genuineness. Set in rural Georgia this play transports the audience to a place not too far away and not too long ago, so the story really hits home.
First thing to be noticed was the set. A collage of trinkets, photographs, and hunting souvenirs line the walls of a warm and welcoming cabin. The scenic designer presented and executed a set that not only looked lived in, but down right familiar. One of the most enjoyable parts of the set was how the actors interacted with it. Not many objects were just placed around to just fill space. So, characters used blankets, pulled the curtains, and put wood on the fire. It really added to the authenticity of the show as a whole. On top of all this the set was still highly functional and the trap door worked really well for the story as well as a visual effect. Everything on the stage worked and better helped the audience imagine the parts that happened off stage work too.
Second was the wide cast of characters. They had so much personality it seemed like there was a larger cast than just seven actors. It felt like everyone was represented from the mother hen, to the “good” doing pastor, to the not so stuck up debutante. It seemed like without really trying Emilie LaBonte, who played Betty, stole the show. She had everyone in the audience falling out of their chairs laughing. Not to say there were no other contenders because both Preston Grant and Derek Iverson were both outstanding. They were loveable, convincing and almost tangible characters. But between the entire cast though there were some inconsistent accents that were distracting and confusing when the lines became muddled and sometimes unintelligible. Despite this the cast did a wonderful job, which showed especially when a prop broke in mid scene. Not a beat was skipped, and the recovery was so flawless most of the audience thought it was supposed to happen.
Last but definitely not last was the sound and lighting. This show was really balanced between the two. The hokey banjo music before the show really set the stage for the humor to come, while the amazing blue sky welcomed the audience to Georgia. Later during the fantastic thunderstorm both sound and lighting combined and crashed to make a lighting clap that made the audience jump right out of their skin. Then when the mob came to the house the use of light to look like torches was highly effective along with the angry mob noises growing louder and louder, which made everyone’s hearts pound. Finally both the lighting and sound went out with a bang. Literally, the explosion off stage was executed really well, so well it almost emitted heat.
By definition comedy in theatre is supposed to unveil a societal flaw and this show did an amazing job entertaining while teaching the audience. We could all use a foreigner or two in our lives.
The play, The Foreigner, never stopped the whole audiences laughing throughout the show. The Foreigner was about a guy (Charlie Baker) who pretended to be a foreigner and his confrontations with crisis such as disguising himself as a foreigner or dealing with Ku Klux Klan. The Foreigner was very entertaining as a comedy as it was the result of collaboration among the brilliant casting, acting directing, stage design, and lighting design.
The director, Michael Perreca, who has flown from New York, was seemed to be the primary staff that deserved the loud applauds at the end of the show. The reason why is that his brilliant casting of the play. Among his casts, Preston Grant (performed as Charlie Baker), Kevin Kiemen (performed as ‘Froggy’) and Emile La Bonte (performed as Betty Meeks) formed so much distinctive characters. They were to be the fittest actors of each character. Perreca’s concern when he was casting the actors may have been two of those; ‘who could do comedy?’, ‘who could play the “characters”?’ If they were the concerns that he dealt with, it was obvious that he got it right. The actors not only played distinctive characters, but also did not forget the play was a comedy. The scenes where Charlie acted as a foreigner always provoked audiences to giggle or laugh out loud. When Betty speaks, her southern accent made the audiences delightful. At the moment when Froggy blew a car away with his cheerful attitude, the whole theater was surrounded by laughter of the audiences.
The Foreigner cannot be said without stage design and lighting design. The two elements created such a realistic background and scenes. Scenic designer, Curtis Phillips and Topaz Cooks succeed to make the play looked interesting even before the play started. At the first glance, the audiences’ mind must have been blown by how the stage looked like. Stuffs hanging on the wall, old-fashioned furniture, two story structures with stairs, and the wooden wall have well presented southern-styled house in a forest. Also, the stage was very functional in creating dramatic effects too. A hole on the floor and doors separating indoor and outdoor did beautiful work in such scene when Ellard Simms disappeared.
Lighting effects, by Mark Harvey and Paul Blakely, created dramatic effects in a realistic way. Changes of the time from morning through evening, front light of a car, and blowing a car away, these all were shown mostly by lighting design. The scenic design might have been not enough to create dramatic effects without lighting design. Especially, in the scene when Charlie was in a danger by being threatened by Ku Klux Klan, the awesome trick in which Ellard Simms disappear underneath the floor was the result of the cooperation of both lighting and scenic design. Shortly, they both seemed to fulfill the audiences’ desire for such special effects on the stage.
Overall, The Foreigner contained everything that comical show must have; which are hilarious acting and dramatic events. If one is looking for some amusement, The Foreigner would be the one that he or she was looking for.
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The Marshall Performing Arts Center welcomed everyone with an outstanding performance Saturday night as Michael Perreca’s rendition of The Foreigner was shown for the second to last time. The play was hilarious and had audience members laughing the entire way through.
The play begins with the main character Charlie Baker (Preston Grant) and his energetic soldier friend “Froggy” LeSueur (Kevin Kieman) arriving 20 miles south of Atlanta at the quaint cabin inn of Betty Meeks (Emilie LaBonte). Baker finds himself in a peculiar situation when he is unable to speak properly to Froggy. The two decide that for the remainder of Baker’s stay, he will pretend to be a foreigner, incapable of understanding English.
The audience immediately understood the comedic value in this performance with the relationship between Charlie and Betty. LaBonte did particularly well at convincing the audience that she was like everyone’s grandma. The intricate foreign tongue that Grant showed off throughout this play proved that he was the correct choice for the main character role. Betty was always so excited to have a foreigner in her house, and Charlie was always willing to have fun with it. This resulted in love from the audience.
Michael Perreca does a fantastic job of emphasizing the main conflict in the story early.
The Foreigner includes two evil characters: Rev. David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas) and Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick), and the two good characters Catherine Simms (Emily Fletcher) and Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson). Catherine has a large inheritance that David and Owen are trying to exploit to help their Ku Klux Klan movement. The money is supposed to be given to Ellard once he comes of age, but Catherine fears he may not be smart enough to have such finances.
Once Ellard is introduced, he seems to become the audience’s favorite character. Iverson does a terrific job playing the young, nieve, and curious Ellard. Ellard’s love for Charlie grows stronger as he teaches Charlie his basic knowledge of the English dictionary. Iverson plays a young person extremely well with convincing posture and childish gestures. The way he would run up the stairs always hit the audience’s soft spot. Ellard’s older sister Catherine also fit the times very well. Fletcher was a perfect choice for a pretty young woman from the south. Her dialect was very convincing and particularly successful at putting the audience that much closer to a tiny cabin in Georgia.
The clear message in The Foreigner is that racism and deception is wrong. It’s an amazing thing that Perreca is able to convey this message through the use of humor! Every character in this performance was necessary and casted correctly. UMD’s ability to acquire a professional director from New York proves that it can compete with any production in the state. The cluttered walls of the cabin, as well as real pine trees simply made the set that much more inspiring. A lot of time and effort was put in to this production and it definitely showed!
Bringing applause and laughs abounding to UMD’s Main Stage, Larry Shue’s The Foreigner was an absolutely delightful show, enhanced through the fantastic characterizations from each performer and realistic scenic design.
Creating an intimate environment in such a large-scale theater can be a challenge, but The Foreigner’s designers definitely rose to the occasion. Timber walls cluttered with vintage photographs and quirky artifacts helped create the homey feel of Betty’s lodge in rural Georgia, where the entire performance takes place. Antique, mismatched furniture completed the rustic set, giving the performers realistic surroundings to easily interact with. The lighting design only enhanced the production, establishing real-life situations throughout the show. The lighting team did a fantastic job creating blackouts, explosions, and some very spooky effects when Ellard disappeared into the floor. The sound effects used in The Foreigner also added to the experience, making the storms and screeching tires feel as if they were literally right out the back door. The costumes were very simple and understated, yet fit the production, time period, and characters remarkably, giving the Rev. David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas) his clean-cut look and added to Ellard Simms’ (Derik Iverson) lovable demeanor.
Iverson gave an amazing performance with his portrayal of Ellard, a slow, yet delightful young man who befriended “the Foreigner” and taught him English. Iverson’s innocent characterization brought many laughs to the theater, with his pronunciation of the work ‘fork’ and childlike responses, leaving a lasting impression on the viewers. Douglas depicted the surprising Rev. David Marshall Lee fantastically, beginning the performance as Catherine’s loving fiancée and revealing his true colors throughout the play. While scheming with the hillbilly Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick), some “un-Godly” plans are uncovered and he concludes the show as a member of the hated Klan. Emily Fletcher characterized Catherine Simms, Ellard’s older sister, capturing the naïve and pregnant woman wonderfully. As Catherine, Fletcher shows a wide range of emotions and does so quite beautifully, making audience members want to jump out of their seats to console her when she finds that her fiancée was a closeted member of the KKK. Stenvick portrays the mischievous, KKK member Owen remarkably, creating a lot of tension amongst the other characters and stirring up trouble whenever he took the stage. “Froggy” LeSueur, performed by Kevin Klemen, was an unflappable army man and while he was not on stage for most of the play, his depiction of “the Foreigner’s” loyal friend and very explosive final scene created a memorable performance. The lodge’s owner, Betty Meeks, is depicted by Emilie LaBonte, who brought to life the well-meaning, wacky character. Whether she was just sitting in a chair listening to a story or flamboyantly communicating with “CHAR-LAY,” LaBonte was most definitely difficult to tear your eyes from. Charlie Baker, a shy Brit brought to the lodge by his mate “Froggy,” was brilliantly performed by Preston Grant. Pretending not to speak English to avoid any human interaction during his stay, Charlie starts his visit as “the Foreigner” and morphs into a member of the family throughout the performance, learning English from Ellard, becoming Catherine’s confidant, and Betty’s fountain of youth. Fantastically characterized, Charlie saves the lodgers from the Klan with a quickly thought-out plan and in the end, chooses to stay with his new-found family.
Jam-packed with laughs and touching moments from a bunch of misfit characters, as well as a wonderfully complimenting scenic design, The Foreigner was, in the words of Ellard, “real good!”
From from curtains to the final bow, UMD's by Larry Shue, had audiences laughing along making it a production well worth seeing. Taking place in the deep Georgia backwoods in 1983, newcomer Charlie is thrown into a house full of crazy characters. Not quite ready for interaction, Charlie plays off that he cannot speak English, and fools everyone in the house. The play encompasses many themes from overcoming adversity, to taking on the Ku Klux Klan and racism. This production would not be so successful without the amazing directing, cast, and stage design.
The director, Michael Perreca, was flown in from New York over a month ago to help cast, and put on this production. The main reason this play gelled so beautifully was because of the amazing cast put together. Preston Grant portrayed the main character in Charlie Baker, and really brought to life the silly yet sophistication in the role. Other characters that assisted Charlie were Emily Fletcher playing Catherine Simms, and Emilie LaBonte playing Betty Meeks. Once the character of Ellard was introduced to the audience, it was clear he was going to steal the show from the rest. Derik Iverson, the actor portraying Ellard, did a fantastic job of honing in on the simpleton mindset required to play the role. Throughout the entire performance he did things goofy and dramatic in ways to keep the audience laughing and engaged. This was by far the best role casted over any others.
As far as lighting goes, Mark Harvey, Paul Blakely, and Jason Dayton all did fabulous jobs adding the the effectiveness of the messages and emotions. From a car lights, to morning and night time on the screen in back, the trio reenforced statements made by the actors. Also, during the tense situations towards the end when the Ku Klux Klan were in the house, the lighting dimed creating a sense of nervousness and anxiety.
The stage for the was beautifully crafted to bring audiences into the intimate setting of the rural backwoods Georgia home. From couches to tables, decorations on the wall, and even a wood burning fire place, audience members were given a real look into the setting the actors played out. The trap door at the end added a beautiful touch to enhance the comedic effect when the Ku Klax Klan arrived and Charlie made Ellard "vanish" right before our eyes. Without the amazing set design, would not of been so well portrayed.
Overall the production was a comedic hit, but had a rather weak plot line. From the beginning it was hard to grasp exactly what the overarching theme the characters were going to follow as Act One spun the audience members in circles. As Act Two opened up, it became more clear about what problem was going to be solved at the end of the performance. However, Michael Perreca's rendition of was superbly done, and is a hit that should be seen again and again!
Review of The Foreigner
On Thursday October 20th The Foreigner opened in the Marshal Preforming Arts Center; however it felt like it was being performed in southern Georgia. The accents and dialogue used seemed accurate to the time period and location and the characters projected with such confidence that I was instantly lured into their world.
The director, Michael Parecca, did a great job of making sure the stage space was utilized fully. It was very apparent that the actors were properly instructed to use the room and props to their advantage in order create the realistic feel that was desired. Froggy used the fake whisky to emphasize he was stressed, and Betty always seemed to be providing food and beverages which added to her giving personality. Parecca also seemed to play a big role in the timing and delivery of the comedy throughout the play, when he spoke to our class he emphasized how funny the play was and he didn’t disappoint.
In the first act Charlie Baker, “the foreigner”, is brought to Betty’s house by Froggy. Charlie is depressed because he is losing his love and Froggy doesn’t help the situation when he informs Charlie of the many suitors she has had. Charlie becomes so depressed that he tells Froggy he does not want to speak to anyone nor be spoken to for the duration of his stay. Froggy doesn’t know how to explain the situation to the other members of the house so instead he lies by saying Charlie is a foreigner and can’t speak a word of English. This excites the other members of the house because they have never had a foreigner in their presence, the comedy explodes from here.
The most comical scene of the entire play occurs when Ellard has his first opportunity to be alone with Charlie at the dinner table. Charlie begins to mirror Ellards movements and facial expressions which Ellard finds hilarious, and so did the audience. Betty enters the room when they both have a cup on their head and she thinks that Ellard is mocking Charlie so she scolds him while simultaneously forcing Charlie to keep the cup on his head. This scene was so brilliant because it created simple awkward humor that the audience loved.
Throughout the play the characters unintentionally use Charlie as a psychologist by telling him their troubles, thoughts, and plans. Catherine Simms, the wealthy inheritor, confides in him often which leads Charlie to develop feelings for her. Catherine’s lover, David Marshall Lee however gets in trouble for running his big mouth around Charlie, eventually leading to his downfall. Charlie is able to learn the true personality of each member of the house and from this knowledge he acts in ways that help the good and destroy the bad.
As the play nears the end the Charlie, Betty, Catherine, and Ellard are living in fear. David and Owen, an unintelligent egocentric redneck, reveal their plans to expand the KKK and leave the house to get the other clan members in order to kill Charlie due to his “foreign status”. Everyone in the house is panicking except for Charlie; his cool headedness allows them to formulate a plan. When the KKK arrive it is a very uneasy scene, the tension in the theater could be cut with a knife. Just when you think they are done for, the plan comes through with full success leading to the frightened retreat of the Klan members.
Overall this play exceeded my expectations; it was hysterical and had me in stitches many different times. The characters had great chemistry and timing which just added to the fluidity of the play. There were scenes with great humor and the next minute the audience would be on the edge of their seat in fear or suspense. Although this was the first performance of The Foreigner I have seen I am confident to say it was brilliant.
On Thursday, October 20 I saw a play “The Foreigner” written by Larry Shue and presented by University of Minnesota Duluth Theatre at the Marshall Performing Arts Center. This brilliant comedy which was directed by Michael Perreca is about two guests at a resort-style fishing lodge in rural Georgia belonging to Betty Meeks (Emilie LaBonte), Englishman Charlie Baker (Preston Grant) and Staff Sergeant Froggy LeSueur (Kevin Kiemen). Charlie is so extremely shy that he is unable to speak properly. As way of explanation, Froggy lies that his companion is the native of an exotic country who doesn’t speak English. Soon after Froggy left, Charlie finds himself privy to clandestine information discussed openly in front of him by other visitors.
This play involved spoiled heiress Catherine Simms (Emily Fletcher) and her fiancé Rev. David Lee, a seemingly humble preacher but a confidence Artist. Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson), a rusty and mentally slower younger brother of Catherine who tries to teach Charlie English. Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick), the racist county property inspector, who plans to fraudulently evict Betty Meeks from her property and convert it into a Ku Klux Klan meeting place.
During the show, I very much enjoyed the performance of Preston Grant and Derik Iverson who played Charlie Baker and Ellard Simms respectively. Preston’s non-vocal gestures upon hearing sinister secrets are funny and remarkable entertaining. Another interesting scene is when his character-Charlie and Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson) copy each other as they eat. In this part, Preston and Derik were able to perfectly impersonate their characters and gave a very talented and audience-glued performance. They started with raising forks in conjunction and playfully moved into balancing juice glasses on their heads thus attracting laughs from amazed audience.
In addition to fine work of Preston and Derik, I was also impressed with technical aspects of the show. The sounding and lighting systems gave actual weather surroundings of storm in one of the scenes. The costumes fitted the actors and actresses roles and the stage depicted an actual architecture of small lodge.
“The Foreigner”, a UMD main stage production, was all out marvelous. The play directed by the well-known New Yorker director, Michael Perreca, did a wonderful job at setting up the play. The play starts out in a cabin in Georgia. The year is 1983 as “Froggy” (Kevin Kiemen) and “Charlie Baker” (Preston Grant) walks into the cabin planning to stay just a few days, with no heads up because Froggy is an old good friend of the owner “Betty” (Emilie Labonte) and feels it would be fine. As they are getting situated into the cabin there is already a lot happening. Charlie is telling Froggy his fears and Froggy is just laughing away setting his character’s role as the comedic relief. Meanwhile Charlie leaves off stage and Betty comes on stage. Betty and Froggy start to talk and just enjoy each other’s presence. This scene felt like a very moment you would have with an old good friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Made it feel very real. They continue to talk and Froggy asks if Charlie can stay, and because Charlie said he didn’t want to talk to anyone; Froggy told Betty to avoid talking to Charlie and Betty continued to ask why. Froggy finally said that Charlie was “a Foreigner”. Betty was so happy she jumped with joy and set the whole audience laughing as well. When Betty finally came into contact with Charlie that was when all the humor in this production broke loose. The whole audience was literally laughing the whole time Betty was on stage. The play continues and you meet other characters like “Catherine” (Emily Fletcher) the soon to be mother and wife, “Ellard” (Derik Iverson) the said to be up to no good and bad boy, “Rev. David Marshall Lee” (Steven Douglas) the great and wise that later turns to be the villain, and lastly “Owen” (Joshua Stenvick) the up to no good bully.
The story goes from being humorous to serious and suspense. You could feel that audiences were at the edge of their seats wait for what was going to happen next. During the second half of the show the Rev. finally starts to act out his master plan to take over the cabin. And while Owen and Charlie are alone in the cabin, Owen continues to pick on Charlie until one scene Charlie stands up for himself and acts like a crazy foreigner, which sends Owen going scared and crazy. Owen then threatens to bring the “KLAN” to take care of the foreigner because they don’t like foreigners. This is when the production switches to an all suspense mood. The music changes, the lighting, the sounds start to give the audience a sense that something dangers is going to happen soon. While the Betty, Catherine, Charlie, and Ellard try to devise a plan to save Charlie from the Klan. The Klan comes chanting up the hill as they are marching towards the cabin. They get into their places as the Klan arrives at the door. The KKK rushes the cabin in their white suites and pointed hoodies, and it all seems that all hope is lost. Then all of a sudden Charlie acts as if he was a demon and takes control of one of the Klan members and makes him disappear into the floor. At this point all the audience members were holding in their breaths due the suspense at this moment. All the Klan members start running all over the cabin due to freight and end up leaving and never returning.
The production demonstrated great efforts in all of their work like on the set, the acting, the lighting, the sounds and carrying out such a humorous but with such suspense and edge to it. The cast did a wonderful job at acting out and playing each character, you could really see imagine that to be how each character would have looked like or sounded like. The director too did a wonderful job at casting his crew to work with and making this edgy play come to life. To sum it all up the play was one of the best I have seen so far on UMD main stage and would recommend this for others to watch. UMD means serious business when it comes down to making a production come to life.
Performing a comedy is quite a large challenge because not only does an actor have to be realistic and believable, but they have to be funny. The cast of The Foreigner successfully accomplished both and left the audience roaring with laughter. Though the success of the night rides on the actors, it was hard not to be impressed when walking into the theater. The set of The Foreigner was thrust out from the proscenium stage, pushing into the audience, creating an intimate relationship between actors and theatergoers. The scene props were numerous and created the feeling that the cabin truly was lived in for years and the accumulated trinkets found onstage were the treasures of Betty. Having such a complete set made it easy for the audience to slip into the story of The Foreigner and the actors held their attention for the rest of the night.
Though the immensely impressive set wowed the audience, the audience wouldn’t have been laughing without an all-star cast. Though there few cast members, Michael Perreca’s choice in casting fit the script wonderfully and he found a way to highlight each of the actor’s strengths. Preston Grant, who played Charlie, was an excellent physical actor and though he had few words, other than those he repeated from Ellard, Grant still held the focus of the audience.
Another actor, Derik Iverson, was also very well cast. Sporting a worn out set of overalls and holding himself like a stubborn kid, the audience started laughing the moment they saw the tall Iverson acting as the young Ellard. The comical appearance was accompanied by a Southern drawl that seemed completely natural. The relationship between Ellard and Charlie was believable and it was essential to the rest of the play’s success.
Catherine Simms, played by Emily Fletcher, starts off as a rather cold character but as the play progresses the audience is given a look into her softer side thanks to Charlie’s “inability to understand English”. The range that Emily is required to portray asks a lot of an actor, but she was still able to manage a believable portrayal. One particular scene that stood out was Catherine’s monologue to Charlie about her soon-to-be husband. Sustaining such a high level emotion without interaction from another character’s support is quite a feat!
With lines meant for laughs, Betty Meeks and “Froggy” LeSueur, delivered them well and had great comedic timing. Both actors were not afraid to pause and make the audience wait for it, giving the line the extra punch it deserved. It never seemed unnatural for their characters to be so funny.
The last two characters Owen Musser, played by Joshua Stenvick, and Reverend David Marshall Lee, played by Steven Douglas, both fit their roles to a “T”. The surprising relationship between the two is a well kept secret from the other characters and the dramatic suspense they create for the play, keeps the audience glued to their seats.
All and all, The Foreigner was a side-splitting good time, full of laughs; believable, heart-warming characters; and a story to make you smile. Having a phenomenal set that pulled the audience in and a strong cast, this show was a resounding success and made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Wednesday Night’s production of The Foreigner was my first opportunity to see a show put on by UMD’s main stage theatre. You could say that I was a foreigner to UMD theatre myself. However, after seeing this show I can honestly say that I will no longer be a foreigner to UMD theatre’s productions. The Foreigner, directed by Michael Perreca, had me and the audience craving for more as the curtain dropped on a fantastic show. However, before even one line was uttered by a cast member, the audience was already engulfed in the quirky world that was Betty Meeks home. As the audience entered the theatre they were greeted with knee-slapping southern folk music and a not so typical home. Betty’s home was littered with everything from a deer butt hanging above the door to tennis rackets tacked to wall. Immediately the audience was captivated by a place that could only exist in your wildest imagination.
The first act was a great set-up for what was to be an entertaining and comical second act. First the audience is introduced Ellard (Derik Iverson). Ellard can be best described as a simple-minded boy with good intentions. As first introduced, Ellard comes off as goofy and dim-witted, which he is. But as the show progresses he grows into a character that audience comes to love as if he were their own quirky little brother. Iverson creates a near perfect character and spouts off his lines with an unbelievable sense of realism. The audience will forever remember Iverson as the affable, genuine Ellard.
The foreigner himself, Charlie, was played by Preston Grant. As the foreigner, Grant has the arduous of playing two characters; Charlie the foreigner and Charlie the British man. Grant, who speaks most of the show in his “native” language, has the audience hanging on his every word; whether they understand them or not. In the second act Charlie recites a length monologue that he claims is one of his “stories”. Simple actions accompany almost five minutes of storytelling in a language that the audience or the cast can’t decipher a word from, but ultimately yielded a thunderous round of applause from the audience mid-scene.
Other characters such as Betty (Emilie LaBonte) and Rev. David Marshall (Steven Douglas) also were portrayed with an incredible sense of realism. By the end of the show, you almost want to drive down to Georgia and visit Betty herself. Overall each character had a specific purpose to the show and each actor went above and beyond in creating their character for this show.
The Foreigner was an absolutely brilliant show with an exceptional cast and superior directing. This show truly has everything. Every second of the show had the audience had the audience eager on the edge of their seats or almost rolling on the floor from laughter. The Foreigner is a tremendous show altogether and one the best shows I have seen in a while.
The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s production of The Foreigner, written by Larry Shue, was a consistently side-splitting and outstanding performance. It was directed by Michael Perreca, a guest director from New York. The gratuitous amounts of exaggerated movements and conversation styles accented a superbly constructed set that immediately stole your gaze upon entering the premise. Simply creative yet efficient costumes gelled nicely with the surrounding set and did a wonderful job portraying the timeframe of the story. The cast absolutely deserved the standing ovation it received at the end of the performance because it was the best play I have seen all semester. Every actor and actress stayed true to their character for the entire play, and that is quite the feat considering the accents and odd ball language required of them. Also, they did not make any noticeable mistakes, which is pretty impressive for an opening night show.
As you can guess, the play is about an actual foreigner named Charlie Baker, played by Preston Grant, who is invited to stay at a lodge in the backwoods of Georgia by his friend Froggy LeSuer, played by Kevin Kiemen. Froggy introduces Charlie to Betty Meeks, played by Emilie LaBonte, who is the hospitable owner of the cabin. She repeatedly goes out of her way to make sure Charlie is well taken care of and is comfortable for the duration of his stay. Along the way, Charlie is described as an odd fellow who will go to any length to avoid conversations with strangers! Thus, the circumstances develop and Charlie takes up the guise of a “foreigner” as a cover up to hide his personality flaws. As such, multiple issues and plot twists become ensnarled with this little white lie. Comical mishap after comical mishap ensued and then all of a sudden it was already the intermission! The performance kept you glued to the edge of your seat in anticipation as well as thrown against the back with laughter.
The set itself was very interesting. There was precious little empty space left anywhere as the entire cabin was stock full of very interesting trinkets and other miscellaneous items. It was made to look very homey and it certainly pulled it off well. But the set didn’t end with the stage; the pine trees placed on the ends. The space was also well used without any extra spaces that I noticed. The stage was also tilted off center, which made it more interesting as an audience member. The lighting was done superbly, with Ellard Simm’s scene putting icing on the cake. There was also a lighting storm that was quite effective and the setting sun was also very realistic.
My one complaint about the show was that as an audience member, you could sometimes see the actors preparing to come on for the next scene and it really stole your focus from the scene and made the sequence of events slightly predictable. Other than that minute flaw, everything else about the performance had a great flow and synergy to it and the energetic and enthusiastic cast definitely brought their A game and delivered a great performance.
The Foreigner, performed at UMD on October 23, was a play that did an excellent job of entertaining its audience. Fun, funny and captivating would have to be the three words that best describes this play. From the beginning, the audience is introduced to very relatable and very loveable characters in situations just crazy enough to put smiles on everybody’s face. As the play proceeds, so do the gags usually, involving communication, or at least the funny attempts at it. At the end of the play though, all of the characters that the viewer has grown to love are at stake and they have one chance to save themselves and to put the hatable villains in their place.
The fun of the play for the viewer is feeling like they are part of the story itself. This comes from very real character types that elicit feelings of empathy, pity, hate, and many more. The main character, Charlie, is a socially shy British man, who feels a bit uncomfortable around the prospect of the many new strangers he is about to live with. He feels uncomfortable to the point where he pretends to be unable to speak any English at all, (this is where the funny begins.) Also in the play is the motherly figure, the unfortunate but nice young woman paired up with the wrong man, and the dumb but loveable character with the best intention who gets a worse reputation than he deserves. All of these characters are quite endearing and make the viewer feels as though he or she belongs to this dysfunctional yet loveable family. On the other hand though there are two character’s that bring out emotions of hate and loathing. These characters are the pastor, who appears nice but is really just a scheming bigot, and the red-necked wannabe sheriff who appears to be a jerky bigot and actually is one. The relatable characters that elicit real emotions from the audience is why The Foreigner succeeds in delivering fun to its audience.
The funny begins in the hilarity that ensues from Charlie, the main character, pretending to be unable to speak English. One funny reoccurring gag was the back and forth that Charlie and Ellard, the loveable yet simple character, had when Ellard was trying to teach Charlie English. Another dose of fun came from Charlie being able to manipulate situations because of him appearing to just be getting the hang of a little English, when really he was just as familiar with the language as anyone else in the play. An example of this is when Charlie made the pastor seem foolish and Ellard seem smart when he was teaching the English speakers some of his own native tongue.
The Foreigner succeeds in captivating its audience during the climax of the play when Charlie’s life is on the line and everybody’s favorite characters are in a dire position in which they either pull a fast one on the two villians of the play, or face the wrath of the infamous and dangerous Klu Klux Klan for harboring a foreigner. The Foreigner does a great job of giving its audience exactly what they asked for and anybody who attends it is in for a real treat.
The University of Minnesota's production of The Foreigner was absolutely spectacular. Every person in the audience was roaring with laughter throughout. The director Michael Perreca, along with the entire cast, put on an outstanding performance.
The performance began with Betty coming out to greet the audience. She had the audience laughing before the show even started, and then it was on to a rather realistic thunderstorm.
Even the tiniest detail of the ponchos being wet had been accounted for. Although the beginning is a little slow as characters are being introduced, every one of Charlie or Ellard's antics or wild expressions would send the crowd into bursts of laughter. From there the play centers around the assumption Charlie doesn’t understand, when really he does. But as the play goes on, we see its more about how each one of the characters complete one another.
The cast of The Foreigner did an outstanding job in this performance. Particularly in Act II when Froggy shows up again and sees how well his lie is treating Charlie, the audience did not stop laughing the entire scene. The actors did such a good job of making it feel like the audience was in on some inside joke. Every one of the actors had such a unique and distance personality, and they pulled them off so well. They all had such perfect gestures and expressions for each scene, the play would not have been nearly enjoyable if not for that extra effort. All the actors looked like they were really enjoying themselves on stage as well, which speaks for the direction of this play.
The Foreigner would not have been the same without the stage set and scenery. The giant pines surrounding the set really make you feel like your out in a cabin in the woods. And the amount of detail simply in the wall of Betty's cabin is simply astounding. Even before the show began, the cluttered walls of Betty's cabin painted us a picture of sweet old Betty who doesn't get out much. Even the way the cabin was turned in towards the audience, every detail made it feel more like you were really there. The lighting at times like the Klan arriving and Ellard disappearing into the floor was really incredible. It was all timed so well it really added to the intensity of the performance on stage. The little details like flickering lights for the thunderstorm or lights on the window from the van are what really give the performance its realism.
If the audience is any indicator, this was an excellent performance of The Foreigner. All the hard work of the cast and crew really came together for one spectacular night. This was the first performance I’ve seen at the UMD main stage, and certainly will not be the last.
The Foreigner, put on by the UMD Theater was a most excellent play. From the lighting, to the sound, to the outstanding acting, the UMD Theater did a most excellent job in performing this production.
This performance starts off with "Froggy", an overseas soldier, bringing "Charlie", his friend and "foreigner", to a small lodge in Georgia during the 1980s. The audience quickly finds out that Charlie has high anxiety when conversing with unfamiliar individuals and in turn can not speak well when confronted by stranger. This is quite ironic seeing as the lodge that he is staying at is populated by people whom he does not know. In order for Charlie to feel comfortable, Froggy decides to tell the rest of the tenants that Charlie doesn't speak any English. Betty, the owner of the lodge, loves this situation seeing as she has never been in the presence of a "foreigner" before. The plot goes on to establish character profiles. Rev. David Marshall Lee, who is claiming he loves his wife unconditionally in order to claim a family fortune and buy out Betty and her lodge. Owen, Rev. Lee's partner in crime and KKK member. Catherine Simms, the sweetheart in the play and the Reverend's wife. And, Ellard Simms, Catherine's younger, moderately dim witted brother, whom needs to prove himself in order to take claim to his part of the family fortune. Charlie hears everyones secrets during this performance, and even though the other characters believe that he doesn't have any idea what they are saying, he knows quite well. This is when Charlie decides to become the hero and help the people who need the help. Throughout the play, Rev. Lee is plotting to take over Betty's lodge with Owen, and buy her property from her. In order to do so he must marry Catherine who has a family fortune. The catch is that Ellard, Catherine's younger brother, will inherit half of the fortune if Catherine sees fit. Since Ellard is a slower individual, Rev. Lee finds an opportunity to make Ellard appear much dumber to Catherine so that she will not give Ellard his half. Aside from this main plot, there are other side plots such as making Betty happy because she has never seen a foreigner in her life, making Ellard actually appear to be smarter than he really is, and being Catherine's shoulder to cry on.
This comedic play was most definitely created in order to entertain the audience. Manipulation, comedic puns, misunderstandings, and over exaggeration were just a few of the aspects that made this play that much more interesting to watch. These aspects, as well as the southern accents and dimwittedness of some of the characters made the play not just entertaining, but entertaining throughout.
The acting in this play was remarkable. The cast portrayed their characters as if they were actually them in real life. The southern drawl, the sarcasm, and the body language seemed to all come so natural for the actors it was almost unbelievable that these individuals on stage were not the characters in the play every day. Specifically Charlie, played by Preston Grant, and Ellard, played by Derik Iverson, caught my attention. Charlie was portrayed to the tennants as not being able to speak English very well. This would be a hard role to fit seeing as this actor was very proficient in this language. Also, throughout the performance as Charlie creates his own language, he tells a story in a jibborish fashion. He never falls out of character and also never loses his spot in his story, which uses enough "alterations" of the English language so the audience understands where the story is going. Ellard, whom is portrayed as a slower individual, always says things that make sense but at the same time are probably not a logical thing to say during the times his lines come into play. Aside from the perfect southern accent, Derik Iverson also was somehow able to draw out his accent a little more so that the audience knew that his character was supposed to be a little more dimwitted than the rest.
The setup of the stage, lighting, and sound also made this performance remarkable. From a thunderstorm, complete with thunder sound effects and lightning, to the trap door which Ellard stands on to give the effect that he is melting in order to scare the KKK away, the effects made this performance never have a dull moment.
Lastly, the stage setup could not have been better. A hybrid-thrust appearance was used making the actors stand out from the background and the background stand out from the backdrop, making it seem as if the performance had a three dimensional appearance. It brought the performers right out in front of the crowd which was key for this comedy. Also, when the audience walks in, the stage is angled so it gives the spectators a certain feeling of off-kilteredness to begin with, which this play is most definitely all about.
All in all, this play was definitely a must see. Everything that occurred during this performance fit together perfectly as if it were a finished puzzle. It kept the audience smiling, chuckling, gasping, and overwhelmed by different feelings the whole time. Aside from being a realistic comedy, there were also parts that were unrealistic such as the melting, but the directing and the acting made it so that this part of the play was not over the top. It is definitely an enjoyable humorous performance.
The Foreigner, a comedy by Larry Shue and directed by Michael Perreca, was preformed wonderfully at the UMD Theater last Wednesday night. The performance was hilarious and had captured the feeling of the Deep South and the “southern hospitality”.
The stage was set to look like the inside of a cabin. It was a cabin where the owner is in love with every trinket that she owns and is not afraid to display it on the wall. The thought that came to mind when looking at the stage was warm. The stage crew did an excellent job setting the premise of the show just by the way it was set up. Another great feature of the stage was the scenery around it. On the ceiling was an A-frame that resembled the top of a house. Around the sides of the stage were huge pine trees which clearly framed the cabin and gave us a sense of the rural area in which the cabin was located. Last, the most structurally impressive part of the stage was the trap door that was used to go into the cellar. At the end of the play Ellard (Derek Iverson) used the trap door to trick the KKK and he sank slowly under the stage.
An impressive part of the performance was the lighting and sound. It was great to walk in and sit down and look into the background behind the old warm cabin and see a deep blue and black sky that would light up with lighting and be followed by thunder which cracked through the trees around the stage. Another great feature of the lighting was the lights around the stage which were filtered to look like leaves giving the audience yet another indicator of location. Finally, the best lighting feature was toward the end when the characters were playing tricks on the KKK members and the lights were flickering and moving and changing and it made the experience a little creepy.
The premise for the foreigner was very funny. Larry Shue did a very good job making use of situational humor. The idea of having the main character not able to able to speak English was golden from the beginning. Shue was able to bring the play up to hilarious heights but also bring the play down to serious sometimes frightening levels. However, the beginning of the play seemed to drag. The characters were a little confusing and no conflict was apparent. The performance quickly picked up after the main character got caught listening in accidentally on a conversation he should not have heard. Other than the first fifteen minutes the play was very satisfying and kept the laughs coming until the end.
The actors in the Foreigner did an excellent job throughout the play dropping clues to where the play was going without giving away the end. Another part of the performance I found brilliant was the ability of the actors to successfully vocalize their respective accent, even when in the presents of other accents.
Overall, the Foreigner was an excellent play. It is a play I would highly recommend to anyone who is in the mood for a heartwarming laugh.
Almost every individual that entered the Marshall Performing Arts Center had high hopes that The Foreigner would be hilarious; at the end of the production many people were satisfied. The theatre was filled with laughter, people could hardly contain themselves! The sarcasm, the weird and unexpected twists, and the irony of being happy were all strong elements that made this whole production a success.
Like a book, the play used the beginning act to introduce the characters and inform the audience of a few important things about the production. Needless to say it was a little hard to get into at first, but the element of sarcasm and the stereotypical view on Southerners drew people back in faster than you could say “FAW-wurk.” The crowd could hardly keep silent after they were introduced to the wonderful Betty Meeks, who was portrayed as your go-to Southern cooking queen. At first one grasps the idea that Charlie Baker is a troubled soul. He has emerging issues of talking to people and worrying about what they might say or what he would be expected to say. Due to this, his dear friend Froggy helps him out by telling everyone in the house that Charlie is foreign. Charlie was not accepting of this notion at first, but after a while he was playing his role as a foreigner with great pride.
Charlie used being a “foreigner” to his advantage. He was over-hearing a great deal of information, yet he was not using it to harm others as he could have. Charlie was incandescently loved by Catherine, Owen and Betty and he was only trying to make them happy in return and he accomplished just that. Catherine was grieving the loss of her parents and struck with the burden of taking care of her brother and their financial situation, but with Charlie around she found peace. Betty was getting to a point in her life where she was questioning whether she accomplished everything she had wanted to. She had listened to numerous stories told by Froggy and his adventures and she wanted to feel that excitement. As soon as Betty met the “foreigner” she felt alive! Her introduction to Charlie satisfied that hunger to live outside the box.
All of this insight was important to making this production satisfactory to watch for multiple reasons; these reasons being that all of the characters had really complex relationships. Some of the actors portrayed their character stronger than others, yet it did not matter. The relationships that their characters shared was reveal in their acting as well. This play made people feel something, yes it was a comedy but it had a subconscious meaning, a way deeper meaning; happiness.
Fast, witty, compelling, three simple words to describe a play that is anything but, The Foreigner was an excellent showing of how plays should be. From just entering the playhouse you get a rush of fresh pine smell, and are deeply taken into a cozy cottage in the midst of a storm; from then on, anything is game. As the house filled so did the spirit in the room, and when the play started there was almost an excitement, I knew already this was going to be a good night. As the characters were introduced, you got a sense of where they came from, and who they were in their pre-story lives, and it almost gave you a sense of belonging on stage with them.
With a crooked stage, the zany antics of each character was magnified and they were able to stand out just enough; seeming neither part of the scenery, or outlandish and non-belonging. Every last detail in on the stage gave it that back-home cottage feel, and Betty Meeks (Emilie LaBonte) sealed the deal with her warm embrace. Nothing seemed to go amiss, whether it was the old family photos, the taxidermy (which included multiple fish and the south side of a northbound white-tail deer), postcards and even game boards under a table propped up by books, this place had everything. Everything seemed so visually inviting and even through the crazy scenarios the plot dove through, the lighting stayed true to realistic qualities.
Performances from all the cast were exceptional, from the mild mannered Ellard Simms (Derik Iverson), the witty Charlie Baker (Preston Grant), the anarchist Reverend David Marshall Lee (Steven Douglas), to the extremist Owen Musser (Joshua Stenvick). Even if you found the character appalling, you couldn’t ever find the actors the same way. From the beginning when Froggy LeSueur (Kevin Kiermen) busted through the door with exuberance, and to the awakening of Catherine Simms (Emily Fletcher) every emotion was loudly sent and received. The fluidity of the play was thorough, and the laughs kept coming until the very end.
All around the entire crew did an excellent job setting up, and executing the play to standards I will hold all future plays to. Hopefully we will see Michael Perreca (Guest Director) around more in the near future as he clearly knocked this one out of the park.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on October 21, 2011 10:29 AM.
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