By Pam Johnson
Get ready for non-stop laughs at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre as it presents The Foreigner through March 11. This zany comedy will add a spark of fun and wit to your day, so don’t miss out!
Froggy LeSueur brings a painfully shy friend, Charlie, to a lodge in southern Georgia to stay for a few days. In order to keep people from engaging him in conversation, Froggy tells everyone that Charlie is a foreigner and doesn’t understand English. After Froggy leaves, the secrets begin to unfold as people feel a little too free to tell Charlie things they definitely wouldn’t say if they knew he understood everything.
“This show looks at the humorous side of what people will say when they think you don’t understand,” said director Janette Gaines. “People even act differently, even though people who don’t understand what you say can still see you. That, in itself, is funny.”
It’s obvious the author took great delight in relaying the stereotypical things people say and do around those they believe don’t comprehend. The fun for the audience is being able to relate to what’s happening on stage. Most of us can either recognize ourselves, or have witnessed others, doing the same exact embarrassing things.
“The script is hilarious with many play-on-words moments,” said Krista Wharton who portrays Betty. “But there are just as many hilarious moments that don’t even have words. One of my most favorite and funniest scenes from the show involves no words at all!”
Good comedy isn’t as easy to pull off as some people would think. Janette explained, “In my opinion, timing and exaggerated expressions are always the key to comedy. The actors must understand every aspect of their characters and how those characters would react to each comment or action. It is my job to see that they do understand and react properly.”
As with any comedy, this story is more than just laughs. There’s also a backdrop of lies, deceit and intolerance.
“It is a play of mistaken identity, Southern charm, wonderful humor, but with a hint of the devil,” said Shawn Hale, who plays the antagonist, Owen. “This character is an exact opposite of who I am and what my beliefs are. There are people who are actually like this character, and it saddens me to know that this kind of hate can still be around in a time when what we need to be spreading is love and tolerance.”
And the message of The Foreigner is to spread this love. Despite the characters’ quirks and foibles, they almost magically band together to prove that those things—love, acceptance, tolerance, sensitivity, kindness, decency— are the most important.
Cole Wilt, who plays the rather simple but lovable Ellard, stated, “The down to earth and relatable characters are more complex than they originally seem.” The audience will feel connected to these rich characters and root for the good guys and want to “boo and hiss” the bad guys. And that’s the way it should be.
The Foreigner is written by Larry Shue, directed by Janette Gaines and assisted by Tara White. The JRT is so thankful for the show sponsors—Lynda Wexler and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Lucas Schmidt, Heather Allen, and Kyle Mason.
Shows are through 11th. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com. The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough, TN.