ACTS to present ‘The Foreigner’ next two weekends

Considering everything that’s going on in the world these days, Steve Deweese requested for Actors Community Theater of Seymour to present the play “The Foreigner.”

While he has been an actor and filled other roles for ACTS and Jackson County Community Theatre, he thought this show was the perfect opportunity to try his hand at directing for the first time.

“I thought that it would be a really good time to show the world themes that include a perceived foreigner showing up and saving the day — foreigner as hero,” he said. “I think the world needs to see more things like that.”

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The first performance of Larry Shue’s two-act comedy was presented in January 1983, and it still portrays some of the same issues in today’s society.

Betty Meeks’ fishing lodge in rural Georgia is a sleepy little place until Charlie Baker shows up speaking a strange language and claiming to understand no English. Charlie suddenly becomes privy to all of the town’s secrets with unexpected and hilarious results.

The show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again Aug. 23 and 24 at ACTS, 357 Tanger Blvd, Suite 208, at Shops at Seymour. Tickets are $12 and are available online at seymouracts.ticketleap.com or at the door.

The cast includes Tim Gordon as Charlie Baker, the foreigner of the play’s title.

“It’s such a diverse cast of characters coming together and being forced to interact with each other and all of the chaos that ensues,” Gordon said.

Olivia Murphy, who portrays the kindhearted Betty Meeks, said she likes how Charlie’s character has a way of revealing the goodness in the good people and the badness in the bad people.

“He has this underhanded kind of way of doing that, and I really enjoyed watching that develop,” she said. “He has a way of making the other characters show themselves for who they really are.”

That includes Ellard Simms, portrayed by Richie Stephan. Ellard appears to be a goofy southern guy but changes as he teaches English to Charlie.

“I think most every character has a really interesting development throughout the entire show,” Stephan said. “Not only is this show hilarious, in-your-face funny nonstop for a full two hours, you actually see that timid old Charlie starts to sort of come out of his shell. He starts to interact with people he didn’t think he could talk to.”

Deweese echoed those comments.

“They all go through some sort of a metamorphosis from the beginning to the end,” he said. “Something happens in this play that really turns people from what you thought they were in the beginning.”

Greg Simons, who portrays Owen Musser, said he likes the combination of comedy and serious topics. In Act 2, something is revealed about Owen that puts the other characters in a difficult situation.

“Everyone loves to see something that’s funny, and we’ve done a lot of funny shows, and this is a great mix of comedy and serious topics, too,” he said.

Deweese said that’s what makes the show interesting.

“Having a chance to see a dramatic/comedic interpretation of a theme that not everybody gets to see is huge, and wrapping it in a funny show gets them in the door,” he said. “Once the thought is planted, it’s planted, it’s there, so it’s nice to wrap up a moral in a little bit of a fun, often catastrophic play like this where things go bonkers.”

Skyla Fields plays the role of sympathetic debutante Catherine Simms. Ellar’s older sister finds herself confiding in her “exotic” new friend, Charlie.

“I think it’s a hilarious rendition of exactly what we’re dealing with right now,” she said. “I think it’s super important in a humorous, fun way to express the problems we’re facing in American right now. It’s very accurate even though it was written so long ago. It’s really sad and fun how history repeats itself.”

The remaining cast includes Zach Thompson as Staff Sgt. “Froggy” LeSueur, Charlie’s exuberant friend and confidante, and Dakoda Bland as Catherine’s fiancé, the Rev. David Marshall Lee.

“This is an all-star cast,” Stephan said. “Everyone has grown with their roles, made it their own. We’ve made this show our own. The timing is our own. The way the characters are is our own. This is a play that you see. If you haven’t been to ACTS, this is what you need to come see.”

Deweese said it has been a complete collaborative effort.

“The comedy that builds comes from us all getting along as well as we do and liking the material as much as we do,” he said. “It makes us want to do it better, so I think that added to it, too.”

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What: "The Foreigner"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again Aug. 23 and 24

Where: Actors Community Theater of Seymour, 357 Tanger Blvd., Suite 208, at Shops at Seymour

Cost: Tickets are $12 and are available online at seymouracts.ticketleap.com or at the door (also at that website, buy a four-show season package for $30)

Director: Steve Deweese

Cast: Tim Gordon as Charlie Baker; Skyla Fields as Catherine Simms; Olivia Murphy as Betty Meeks; Zach Thompson as Staff Sgt. “Froggy” LeSueur; Richie Stephan as Ellard Simms; Greg Simons as Owen Musser; and Dakoda Bland as the Rev. David Marshall Lee

Technical: Amanda Bott, Ashley Browning and Elyse McGill

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