THE NERDby Larry Shue
Garland Civic Theatre
Director: Carol Rice
Stage Manager: Rebecca McDonald
Set Designer: Edgar Hernandez
Costume Designer: Ryan Matthieu Smith
Lighting Designer: Christina Giles
Sound Designer: Carol Rice
Willum Cubbert: J. Kyle Harris
Tansy MacGinnis: Shanna Gobin
Axel Hammond: Kim Winnubst (for Michael B. Moore)
Warnock Waldgrave: Kenneth Fulenwider
Clelia Waldgrave: Kelly Moore Clarkson
Thor Waldgrave: Simon Nagles
Rick Steadman: Kevin Michael Fuld
Reviewed Performance: 10/5/2012
Reviewed by Jeremy William Osborne, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
I am quite impressed with the set design by Edgar Hernandez. The stage at the Granville Arts Center presents many unique challenges with its odd angles and ill-placed audience barriers. Hernandez's box set design provides several pathways for the actors to enter and exit, including a closet. The appropriate wall colors and designs of the furniture add to the illusion of time-travel back to the early 80s. All elements combine into a very effective design.
The costumes in The Nerd are fine examples of early 80s fashion. Seeing the cast in their appropriate apparel brought back memories of Family Ties or Newhart, both highly successful 1982 TV programs for those too young to remember. Ryan Matthieu Smith certainly did his research and hit the nail on the head with the attire.
Carol Rice's sound design is excellent. Her late-70s/early-80s picks for pre-show/intermission music sets the tone for The Nerd well. Also, all of the answering machine messages are well- crafted, with the right amount of poor sound quality to make them believable but not unlistenable. It's always nice to see a multi-talented director.
J. Kyle Harris plays everyman, nice guy Willum Cubbert, and an architect from Terre Haute, IN who owes a debt of gratitude to the nerd, Rick Steadman. Aside from a couple of wonderful monologues in the second act, Harris' performance leaves something to be desired. His line delivery is flat, like someone going through the motions. Still, Harris' character is defined enough to garner sympathy from the audience as he struggles with what to do about his pesky house guest.
Kevin Michael Fuld is excellent as the nuisance, Rick Steadman, and his revelation in the twist ending is amazing. The character of Rick Steadman is meant to be one of supreme annoyance and Fuld channeled many stereotypes into his fine performance. The nasally voice, craned neck and pelvis-leading posture all contribute to his wonderful characterization, making his rendition of the character a successfully funny caricature.
Unfortunately, a medical emergency kept Michael B. Moore out of the performance October 5th. The part of Axel Hammond, an acerbic yet playful gay man seems to be written for him. Kim Winnubst stepped into the role on very short notice, carrying a script with her. Luckily, appropriate costumes were found for her so she wasn't completely out of place. Given the circumstances, she turned in a commendable performance. If the script had not been in her hands she would have blended into the scenes almost seamlessly even though the character rested on her like an ill-fitted suit. It is safe to assume the sudden change was at least a mild disruption to the performance of the other actors. It would be nice to see how the play runs with the undeniable energy of Michael B. Moore plugged in.
Shanna Gobin plays Tansy MacGinnis with the same stiff but adequate performance as J. Kyle Harris. Tansy's growing frustration with Rick Steadman is entertaining and fun to watch. Gobin expresses her repression of anger toward the nerd in ways that the audience can both identify with and laugh at. However, there is a noticeable lack of sexual tension between the two that is explicitly written in the script. The instances when the two hug or touch and share ?a moment? are not interesting. They fail to keep the audience hanging on ?will they/won't they? suspense.
The Waldgrave family is larger than life, trapped in the whirling cyclone that is Larry Shue's world. They are unfortunate enough to arrive at a dinner party taken over by Rick Steadman. Warnock Waldgrave, who insists on being called Tikky, is the leader, a tall, powerful hotel owner. He is accustomed to having things always go his way and will not accept no as an answer. Kenneth Fulenwider's performance as ?Tikky? is over-the-top, in a Saturday Night Live style. The character comes across as a representation of an ideal rather than a real person.
As Clelia Waldgrave, the neurotic, brow beaten wife of Warnock, Kelly Moore Clarkson is a real gem. In her reserved mannerisms and quiet, pleasant voice, Clarkson presents one of the most believable and entertaining performances of The Nerd. Also, watching her collect plates for Clelia's plate-smashing stress relief is unexpectedly fun to observe.
Finally, Simon Nagles as the exuberant and head-strong Thor Waldgrave steals the few scenes he appears in. From the start, Thor shows he is just as stubborn as his father, locking himself in Willum's bedroom and playing hardball with his father's negotiation tactics. When Thor does appear, Nagles is adorable and hilarious. Most of his lines are screaming in terror as Thor is repeatedly traumatized by the strange circumstances surrounding him but Nagles keeps the audience sympathetic and laughing throughout.
The Nerd at Garland Civic Theatre is an entertaining endeavor into the world of farce comedy. Great writing by Larry Shue supports rough but respectable performances from a talented cast. It is certainly a good way to spend a weekend evening with the family or significant other.
Garland Civic Theatre
Granville Arts Center
300 N. Fifth St. Garland, TX 75040
Runs through October 27th, 2012
Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:30 pm.
There is an added performance on Saturday, Oct. 27th at 2:30 pm.
Tickets are $22.00. Groups of 10 or more are $18.00 each.
For information, go to www.garlandcivictheatre.org.
To purchase tickets, call their box office at (972) 205-2790.