February 9, 2005
Cowley Theatre Department to present comedy 'The Foreigner'
March 3 can’t get here soon enough for Scott MacLaughlin.
Cowley College’s director of theatre is putting a cast of seven students through rehearsals for the spring play “The Foreigner,” to be shown at 7:30 p.m. March 3-5 in the Robert Brown Theatre inside the Brown Center on Cowley’s main campus.
Tickets are $7 per person or $17 for dinner and show. A dinner will be served in the Earle N. Wright Community Room at 6:15 p.m. prior to the shows on March 4 and 5. Dinner reservations are due by noon March 2. Tickets may be purchased from the Cowley College Box Office located inside the east doors of the Brown Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, or order by phone at (620) 441-5570. MasterCard, VISA and Discover cards are accepted.
The Foreigner is a crowd-pleasing comedy written by the late Larry Shue, who died in a plane crash in 1985 at age 39. His other claim to fame as a playwright was “The Nerd.”
“I’m really excited about this show,” MacLaughlin said of The Foreigner. “It’s well-written and has a lot of witty humor.”
Much of Shue’s gentle, thoughtful humor derives from mistaken identity and role-playing, especially when the role-playing gets out of hand. It’s not the one-liner comedy of someone like Neil Simon, but the characters are a bit edgier in The Foreigner than The Nerd.
An assumed identity drives the story and the comedy. The setting is a backwoods lodge in Georgia. A lovable but boring professional proofreader, there on holiday, outwits a scheming preacher and his accomplice with the Ku Klux Klan, and keeps the lodge property in the family. To do so, he must pretend, for an act-and-a-half, to speak no English at all.
The proofreader is Charlie Baker, who will be played by sophomore Bronze Hill.
“Charlie is a very challenging role,” MacLaughlin said. “You have a community college student from the Midwest playing a man with an English accent who is very afraid to talk. Then, at the end, Charlie teaches the Georgians his language, so we get to see two sides of Charlie.”
Perhaps the funniest section is a wordless game of Mirror—a ballet for two men, a breakfast table, and two empty juice glasses. Or perhaps it’s the story of Little Red Riding Hood told in Eastern European gibberish.
“The goal is that the characters need to be portrayed as very real and not overdone at all to make an impact,” MacLaughlin said. “The students are doing a good job.”
MacLaughlin said the comedy in The Foreigner needed to be “more subtle.” If played too heavily, the characters will come off simply as stupid caricatures, and the humor will be mean-spirited. MacLaughlin explained why he chose this play.
“I’ve seen it done very, very well, and the more I read the play the more I appreciated the playwright,” he said. “It’s very entertaining.”
Last fall, Matthew Broderick played Charlie as The Foreigner returned off-Broadway 20 years after its January 1983 premiere by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
MacLaughlin said The Foreigner should evoke many emotions in the audience.
“It’s different in that it has a lot of hilarious comedy and scary moments,” he said. “You never know what Owen Musser is going to do.”
Musser is being played by Cowley sophomore Neal Crouch.
Place and time: Betty Meeks’ Fishing Lodge Resort, Tilghman County, Georgia, the recent past spring.
The cast: Staff Sergeant “Froggy” LeSueur (played by sophomore Blake Chamberlain of Conway Springs); Charlie Baker (Bronze Hill of Arkansas City, Dexter High School); Betty Meeks (freshman Kelly Hedges of Valley Center); The Rev. David Marshall Lee (sophomore Ian Rethmeier of Winfield); Catherine Simms (sophomore Elisa Stites of Prescott, Jayhawk Linn High School); Owen Musser (sophomore Neal Crouch of Wellington); and Ellard Simms (freshman Jaden Hedge of Topeka, Washburn Rural High School). There also are some townspeople who appear in the play.
The stage manager is Whitney Smith, a sophomore from Mulvane.
“This is going to be a great show,” MacLaughlin said. “This play is such a fun experience for the students because they get to create these characters and make them real.”