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“The Foreigner” visits Little Theatre of Watertown

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The idea of producing “The Foreigner” had been exiled to the back of Sarah M. Hovey’s mind for the past several years.

“I have been asked by at least seven people over the past few years when we were going to do it,” said Mrs. Hovey, who is directing the play for Little Theatre of Watertown. “One person told me it was the funniest show he had ever seen.”

The comedy by the late playwright Larry Shue concerns a “foreigner” who is brought by a friend to a remote fishing lodge in rural Georgia. But it required some special stage rigging (a hidden door) for a key scene and Mrs. Hovey thought she would be unable to pull it off.

Last year, Mrs. Hovey produced another comedy, “The Nerd,” by Mr. Shue. Afterward, she spoke to some other directors and actors at community theaters across the state about their work with “The Foreigner” and how they staged it.

“I got over my fear of the technicalities and decided to go for it,” she said.

The play will be staged as six dinner-theater shows and two show-only productions beginning Thursday at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St.

The comedy demonstrates what can happen when a group of “devious characters” must deal with a stranger whom they are told knows no English.

The play’s fishing lodge is often visited by “Froggy” LeSeuer, a British demolition expert who occasionally runs training sessions at a nearby Army base, according to a synopsis by Dramatists Play Service Inc. But this time “Froggy” has brought along a friend, a pathologically shy young man, Charlie, who is overcome with fear at the thought of making conversation with strangers. Froggy tells guests and workers at the lodge that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and speaks no English.

Charlie then overhears sinister plans and personal revalations. This sets up a spirited conclusion between the “good guys and bad guys.”

“The Foreigner,” which premiered in 1984, was the winner of two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards as Best New American Play and Best Off-Broadway Production.

The Little Theatre of Watertown cast of eight consists of five veterans and three newcomers to the organization.

“Rehearsals are a lot of fun because of the great things the cast is doing with their characters,” Mrs. Hovey said.

The cast: Shane Coughlin as Froggy LeSeuer; Terry Burgess as Charlie Baker; Lauren Burt as Catherine Sims (week two); David Koberling as the Rev. David Marshall Lee; Jane Bowman Jenkins as Betty Meeks; Colton Mangon as Ellard Sims; Emily Thompson as Catherine Sims (week one) and Robert Whiston as Owen Musser.

Mrs. Hovey is assisted by Georgia Gagnon in directing duties.

the details
WHAT: Little Theatre of Watertown to stage ‘The Foreigner.’
WHEN/WHERE: The six dinner/theater shows and two show-only productions will be at the Black River Valley Club, 131 Washington St.
The dinner-theaters: dinner at 6:30 p.m. with show to follow on Friday and Feb. 28, March 1 and 2.
Also “dinner” matinee productions at 1 p.m. with show to follow on Feb. 23 and 24.
Reservations are required for dinner-theaters. Cost is $30 per person, which includes tax and tip. Dinner choices are roast beef, chicken Parmesan and garlic salmon. Call Little Theatre at 782-2347 to make a reservation.
General admission shows are at 7 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. March 3. Admission is $12 at the door.
There is no general admission on dinner-theater days.
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