Story by Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Sierra Mason
Aquinas College Theatre’s second production of the season will be Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner.” The show will be at the Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20–23 (Wednesday to Saturday) and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 (Sunday).
The two-act play became an instant classic when it premiered in 1983—a mere two years before Larry Shue, the playwright, died in a plane crash at just 39 years of age. The title character, Charlie Baker (Zach Avery), is an Englishman at a Georgia lodge looking for a break from problems in his personal life. His friend, Froggy (Olivia Dybing), tries to help by telling everybody at the lodge that Charlie does not speak any English, hoping that this will make people leave Charlie alone. But Froggy’s plan has the exact opposite effect, as all the locals, confident that Charlie does not understand anything they say, start freely telling him their secrets. Which, of course, should have led to rich comedy.
And it does, but then the comedy turns dark, as it turns out that not just Charlie, but some of the locals too, are quite the opposite of what they seem to be. Go catch one of the five shows to find out what happens.
John VanWeezel, who plays one of the locals, says this may be the darkest of all the characters he has played in his time at Aquinas. I only watched a rehearsal of the second act, and I agree. The escalation of crisis is almost material when VanWeezel’s character, Owen, takes the final step in its development. The other locals are played by Breanne Blackwell, Hunter Denkema, Nejla Mujanovic, and Sam Verburg, all of whom bring a lovely light touch to their characters, making for an enjoyable show in spite of the fact that the play’s substance is ultimately dark—they make sure the show will be a good time.
I laughed out loud at several points when I watched the rehearsal, and it was obvious that the players, too, were having a lot of fun. Just the chemistry of the cast is worth the price of a ticket to watch, and they fashion this classic play like a favorite sweater at the end of fall.
AQ Theatre’s next production will be the musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” at the same venue at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 19–22 and at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 23—and there is still time to audition for it.
Yashowanto Ghosh is a senior with a major in English with a writing emphasis and a minor in Japanese. Jasho is also an alumnus of Aquinas (B.A. German ’11, B.A. Communication ’17).