Review: The Foreigner, Novato Theater Company

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Community theater is a wonderful thing! I’m amazed by the talented and dedicated team of volunteers which makes up the Novato Theater Company. After much hard work (and more to come), they are now housed in their new location (5420 Nave Drive just off the 101 N, Hamilton Exit) with a 10-year lease.

Last night I enjoyed the preview of Larry Shue’s The Foreigner, a light comedy which takes place at a remote fishing lodge in Georgia during the 1980s. Director Jerrie Patterson delivered opening remarks wearing a hard hat. The dedicated cast and crew had to rehearse not only during set construction, but also while the whole building was under renovation, converting the space from a church to a theater.

Here’s the basic plot: The boisterous, good-natured Froggy LeSueur drops off his shy and socially awkward friend, Charlie Baker, at a fishing lodge run by a friend of his, the sad widow, Betty Meeks, for a weekend of R&R. Charlie has lost all self-confidence due to his attenuated relationship with his dying, unfaithful wife. He cringes at the thought of having to converse with strangers. “How does one acquire personality?” Charlie asks his friend.

Froggy devises a plan that he thinks will bring both joy to Betty’s life and save his friend from having to speak and embarrass himself in front of strangers. Meanwhile, other guests at the lodge have schemes of their own, and Charlie blossoms as a man of remarkable personality and resourcefulness.

I give the production a B rating overall,  even though the acting is probably more like a B+. Johnny De Bernard (Froggy) and Cat Bish (Betty) gave especially strong performances. I love the sense of ease you get when an actor feels fully grounded in his character. Honorable mention goes to San Marin High sophomore, Parker Neely, who plays an indubitable Ellard Simms.

Really, they all did a great job. However, the play itself is a bit thin on plot. If you want an easy-to-digest farce with some good laughs and an excellent punchline ending, this is the play for you.

Cast includes (actor – character):

Cat Bish – Betty Meeks
Rachel Brogdon – Catherine Simms
John Conway – Owen Musser
Johnny DeBernard – Froggy LeSuerur
Frederick Lein – Charlie Baker
Parker Neely – Ellard Simms
Robert Nelson – Rev. David Marshall Lee

Here’s a listing of NTC’s upcoming season:

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For more information, see: http://novatotheatercompany.org/

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