The Northeast State Community College Department of Theatre stages the second weekend run of Larry Shue’s award-winning play The Foreigner from Nov. 16 to Nov. 19 at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theatre on the Blountville campus.
Audiences are introduced to The Foreigner as British soldier “Froggy” LeSeuer and his friend Charlie Baker visit a fishing lodge in rural Georgia. Charlie’s pathological shyness sets in motion a series of hilarious conversations and confrontations with the locals. Funny yet biting, the play delivers some welcomed humor to the tense political and cultural times of our day.
“One of the reasons we chose this play is because we thought everyone needed a laugh,” said Elizabeth M. Sloan, associate professor and director of Northeast State Theatre. “This play is one of the funniest plays I have ever seen.”
Shelby Minogue portrays wistful lodge owner Betty Meeks who has known Froggy for many years. Her friendship with Froggy and his globe-trotting experiences have made Betty long for taking a different direction in life.
“I think Betty was a hippie when she was younger,” said Minogue. “Betty represents a traditional Christian woman, but she is also much more go-with-the-flow attitude and fun to be around.”
Northeast State Theatre major Shelby Ashley pulled double duty as a cast member and lighting designer for the play. Ashley earned a first-place award in lighting design for the Weiss Design category at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. For that competition, she created a lighting design project from sketch to stage for the play Sunday in the Park with George. In The Foreigner, she portrays debutante Catherine Simms. Although a spoiled rich girl in a small town, Simms longs to break free from her stale life and finds a possible suitor in Charlie.
“She wants to fall in love with someone but she wants to fall in love with someone who will listen to her,” said Ashley. “I think she’s sick of that life she’s known and becomes drawn to Charlie because he does listen to her.”
Fellow Theatre major Chris Bell portrays Owen Musser, an oily townie involved in a shady plot with some other well-connected locals. Bell said his character represented some of the worst stereotypes about the South.
“He goes from being an unlikeable character early in the play to being an even more unlikable character by the end of the play,” said Bell. “I think we all know someone like Owen who makes us cringe every time he’s around.”
Brad McKenzie, the play’s director, urged community members to come out and see this heart-warming and funny play that deals with themes of acceptance and love. He noted how the characters in the play grow and realize that they have become stronger together by accepting others and standing up for what is right.
“Sometimes in the ever-shifting, often hateful, national conversations we find ourselves in, it is nice to be reminded that there is hope and people actually can be good to one another if they try,” he said. “Northeast State is a nationally and regionally recognized award-winning theatre department. Our students put uncountable time and hard work into each and every production. I invite everyone in the community to come out and support local art and at only $10 a ticket, it’s a reasonable and fun night out.”
The second-week run opens with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, 17, and 18. A matinee performance happens on Nov. 19 at 2:00 p.m.
“These students, four of which, have never been on our stage, really do the play justice,” said Sloan. “We had a great response from everyone who attended the first weekend. In fact, I have never had so many people tell me how much they enjoyed a show.”
Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for groups of 10 or more. Admission is free to Northeast State students presenting valid student identification.
The play is presented through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc. In compliance with the American Disabilities Act, Northeast State honors requests for reasonable accommodations made by individuals with disabilities.