THE FOREIGNERby Larry Shue
Directed by Tony Arangio
Stage Manager – Branson White
Scenic Designer – Tony Curtis
Lighting Designer – Bryan Stevenson
Sound Designer – Jordana Abrenica
Costume Designer – Meredith Hinton
Properties Designer – Nichole Hull
Scenic Charge – Roxanne Mather
Sgt. Froggy LeSueur – Kenny Fudge
Charlie Baker – BJ Cleveland
Betty Meeks – Shirley Orr
Rev. David Marshall Lee – Rodney Honeycutt
Catherine Simms – Cindy Honeycutt
Owen Musser – Steven D. Morris
Ellard Simms – Tyler Martin
Reviewed Performance: 8/10/2013
Reviewed by Scott W. Davis , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The show is set in rural Georgia where Froggy, a British Army explosives technician, has brought his friend to a small fishing lodge. Charlie’s a bit distraught since he’s dealing with his wife’s terminal illness. He asks Froggy to help make sure he’s not bothered while he deals with his feelings. Froggy proceeds to takes care of that by telling Betty, the owner of the lodge, that Charlie was from another country and doesn’t speak any English. Word spreads quickly about Charlie, everyone talks about everything to the man who can’t understand them. Charlie becomes the only one who really knows what’s going on. Get ready to laugh!
Walking into the theatre I was truly impressed with the set that Tony Curtis designed. It actually looked like the inside of fishing or hunting lodge. The woodwork on the back wall was phenomenal. Horizontally laid boards in two different colors made the wall resemble a log cabin. The multi level set looked very inviting and cozy painted to look like stained and natural wood. The upper level had an entrance into the bedrooms off to one side while the front door was center on the upper platform. Stairs take you from the landing sown to the lower sunken section there was a seating area stage left while the front desk and dining room sat stage right.
Nicole Hull’s set dressing was equally impressive. Taxidermy fish lined the wall behind the front desk, while a Coca-Cola cooler underneath gave a vintage 1960’s man cave style to the set. Every prop and set piece extenuated the already beautiful set. All of it revolved around a massive chandelier which sat over the center of the room.
Costumes were well designed for each character. Designer Meredith Hinton did a fantastic job of creating pieces for each character that really separated the Americans from the British. From the pastor’s elements to Ellards coveralls, the costumes really fit the rural south. As well the British Army outfit used on Froggy reminded me of the outfits the Brits used to wear all the way through the 90’s.
Sound Designer Jordana Abrenica did a wonderful job. The effects she used truly enhanced certain scenes. Subtle sounds whenever the door opened such as the storm sounds increasing were created beautifully and the levels were spot on.
The only technical part of the show I wasn’t impressed with was the lighting design by Bryan Stevenson. While it was adequate through most of the show there were definitely some downfalls. Whenever the actors moved towards the front of the stage they were left in spotty lighting. It was uneven in color, intensity, and a huge dead area center stage left the actors in the dark, becoming highly distractive.
Director Tony Arangio’s blocking was flawless. The actors kept moving, which kept my eyes constantly looking to see what was next. I always talk about timing with comedies; timing is the key to making a comedy flow correctly. It’s imperative that any director follows the flow that the writer has put into the work and Mr. Arangio tackled that head on. The timing and delivery was spot on all night long. This show is something for him to be proud of.
There was a lot of strong acting in this show as well. Kenny Fudge’s portrayal of Sgt. Froggy was a complete blast to watch. It took me a little while to get used to his not so perfect English accent but once I got passed that, Mr. Fudge had me laughing. His facial expressions through the whole show were worth it.
This was not the first time to see BJ Cleveland on stage in the DFW area. Once again we got a stellar performance from this actor. The ability to make people laugh without saying one word in English is not easy; Mr. Cleveland did it with ease. During the show Charlie tells the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Mr. Cleveland had the audience laughing out loud for five minutes without ever saying a real word”. This was truly an award winning performance.
Shirley Orr hits the stage at Theatre Arlington once again. This time Orr is playing Betty Meeks. Her energy on stage was truly addictive. Wow, everyone should give it up for this veteran actress. She was absolutely great in making me believe Betty was the maternal glue holding the lodge together. There were a couple of times, though, where I couldn’t hear her lines. We were sitting all the way in the back and whenever the audience laughed I really couldn’t hear her soft voice, a good sign of comedic success I would think.
Catherine Simms was portrayed by Cindy Honeycutt who was a very strong actress in this hard to perform comedy. Her ability to play on Charlie’s emotions really worked and yet she showed the character’s caring nature toward her mentally challenged brother.
Do we have a bad guy? There’s always a bad guy. In this show it’s the Rev. David Marshall Lee played by Rodney Honeycutt. The minute the character walked in you knew nothing good would come out of it. It takes a second to realize that the character was a bad man. When he sends Ellard up to his sisters room with a carrot when she asked for a candle, well lets’ just say Mr. Honeycutt did a wonderful job of being mean.
Every bad guy needs some muscle, right? Owen Musser was that guy, being portrayed by Steven D. Morris. In a sleeveless shirt and shaved head, Mr. Morris was the epitome of a Georgia Redneck. What I really liked about his performance was his voice. He had great projection. Even where we sat he was easily heard.
Last, but not least, is Tyler Martin playing Ellard Simms. There’s always one character that sticks out in every show, and Mr. Martin was it in this production. His ability to make Ellard a believable character with his mannerisms was astonishing. There is a scene with Charlie at breakfast where he mimics Ellard. Mr. Martin kept a straight face through the whole scene, even with Cleveland’s comical facial expressions egging him on. He never broke character. Playing a mentally challenged person in a farce can be dangerous. It could be easy to offend people but Mr. Martin was extremely respectful to the character which was nice to see, making the comedic contrast more potent.
Theatre Arlington hits one out of the ballpark with The Foreigner. It has been one of my favorite comedies since college and the director, cast, and designers at Theatre Arlington have done it justice. The show is one that I would recommend to anyone that needs to laugh for a few hours and realize that Charlie’s life is a heck of a lot tougher than ours. The only problem is there are very few tickets left so get online today. Don’t miss out on this one!
305 W. Main St.
Arlington, TX 76010
Running through August 25th
Show times are Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday - Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm.
Tickets are $19.00, $17.00 for seniors and students, and $15.00 for groups of 10 or more.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to www.theatrearlington.org or call their box office at 817-275-7661.