Posted: Wednesday May 15, 2013
May 15, 2013
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre opens its 45th season of professional theatre with a preview of the popular comedy The Nerd on Thursday, May 30.
One of the most memorable hits in the history of Saint Vincent Summer Theatre, this will mark the fourth time that Saint Vincent has presented The Nerd. The show will return for 15 performances only.
The preview performance is scheduled at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, May 30. Regular performances are set for 8:10 p.m. May 31, June 1, June 4 to 8 and 11 to 15. Matinees are scheduled at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday, June 5 and Sunday, June 9.
“The Nerd is one of the most beloved shows we have ever done here,” commented Colleen Reilly, director. “It is a show that patrons frequently tell me is their all-time favorite. We haven’t done it for eight years so I thought it was a good time to bring it back since our audience has grown and we have a lot of new patrons.”
“Last season we presented The Foreigner, another popular show by the same playwright, Larry Shue,” she continued. “Like The Foreigner, The Nerd is delightful, crowd-pleasing entertainment.”
The Nerd was written by Shue in the early 1980s and tells the story of a mild-mannered architect named Willum Cubbert who is facing a lot of challenges in his life, many of them self-inflicted because he has very little gumption. “He is a decent, funny and talented man but he doesn’t have a lot of backbone,” Reilly commented. “So he is finding his artistic vision challenged at work, his girlfriend is planning a cross country move and he doesn’t seem able to work up the will to do anything about his problems. But then on his 34th birthday, he gets an unexpected but welcome message. A man named Rick Steadman is coming to visit him. Willum has never met Rick but he has always wanted to. Ten years earlier in Viet Nam, Rick saved Willum’s life. Willum was badly wounded with shrapnel, was found unconscious, bleeding to death and Rick picked him up and carried him ten miles, got him medical attention and saved his life. Rick was shipped out before Willum could meet him and express his appreciation but he wrote him a letter saying that he had a friend for life if there was ever anything he could do for him. Now Rick is coming for a visit and Willum couldn’t be more thrilled. The problem is that when Rick shows up, he is a disaster. He is the nerd of the title and not a nice, intelligent nerd but an obnoxious, insensitive, socially bumbling, rude, unpleasant visitor. And he seems to plan to stay with Willum indefinitely.”
The play is the story of Rick’s impact on Willum’s life and his attempt to deal with it.
“When I was young, I remember my father (the late Saint Vincent Summer Theatre director Joe Reilly) telling me the story of The Nerd,” Reilly recalled. “I remember thinking I wouldn’t like it because I never liked comedy that’s too painful. But, for anybody else who has that inclination, The Nerd is really not like that. You will love the characters, you will love spending time with them, even Rick, as outrageous as he is, is a really funny and delightful companion, though probably not for Willum.”
“The Nerd is one of those shows that people remember and talk about,” Reilly said. “It’s one of those shows that stands out in your memory for how hard you were laughing and how much fun you had. I won’t give anything away but it has a magnificent ending and it’s one the audience really enjoys. You will hear cheers, gasps, raucous laughter, applause and more. It is a really wonderful show to watch. I have seen it dozens of times and still enjoy it. People who have never seen it before will enjoy it and those who have seen it will enjoy a new production and cast. It is a real treat.”
The show features Saint Vincent Summer Theatre veterans Kevin Daniel O’Leary as Rick Steadman, Karen Baum as Tansy McGinnis, Alex Walton as Willum Cubbert, Philip Winters as Warnock Waldgrave, and Renata Marino as Clelia Waldgrave. New to the Saint Vincent stage are Tony Bingham as Axel Hammond and Anthony Marino Jr. as Thor Waldgrave.
“I am very excited about our cast,” Reilly noted. “I think this is going to be a really fun version of The Nerd. Playing the title role is Kevin Daniel O’Leary who has been a member of our company since 2009 and has, in that time, become a real audience favorite and justifiably so. He’s an extremely talented young actor and I think his nerd is going to be a joy to behold. Kevin has a wonderful fearlessness in his acting and a great imagination. I can’t wait to see what he brings to the character of Rick Steadman in his first time playing the role.”
Playing Willum Cubbert is Alex Walton who made his Saint Vincent debut last summer in The Foreigner. “He is a very talented young actor who in The Foreigner played a villain. In this production he plays a hero. He’s a very charming actor. Willum has to be both put-upon and heroic. That’s a challenge but Alex will be able to do it,” Reilly said.
“Tansy, Willum’s beloved girlfriend, is going to be played by Karen Baum who has also become a favorite over the last few years,” Reilly said. “Audiences might remember her playing one of the divas last year in Suite Surrender. Karen has a magnificent range – she can do everything from an over-the-top diva to a sweet young girl.”
“Philip Winters, who will play Warnock Waldgrave, has been acting at Saint Vincent for nearly 20 years,” Reilly noted. “Audiences loved him last summer playing Art Rooney Sr. in The Chief, a real tour de force performance. Philip is one of the great actors in this region and in this play he has the role of a grumpy old man which couldn’t be further from his personality. But he is a magnificent actor and I think he is going to be a terrific foil for Kevin’s character – a clash between an up-tight older businessman and the obnoxious young nerd. Their interactions are the stuff of high comedy and I think they will have a good time entertaining our audiences.”
“Renata Marino, who plays Clelia Waldgrave, is well known to Saint Vincent audiences,” Reilly admitted. “For the past 20 years, she has been an unfailing delight to work with and to watch. She also has a tremendous range and this will be an unusual kind of role for her. Renata is crazy and fearless and this role is kind of an up-tight, button-down wife and mother. It’s a very funny role and I know that Renata will play it beautifully.”
“Anthony Marino Jr. is the son of Tony and Renata Marino who are well known in the Greensburg area for their work with Stage Right,” Reilly explained. “Anthony is only 13 years old but he is already a talented and accomplished actor who has appeared in a couple of feature films and numerous stage productions. I’ve enjoyed his work on stage for several years now. I am very happy that he has the chance to appear on stage with his mother since I think family involvement is so important, something I experienced as a child growing up in a stage family.”
“Tony Bingham, who plays Axel Hammond, is new to our stage,” Reilly noted. “I am very excited to be working with him. He is an actor from the Pittsburgh region. I have heard wonderful things about his work and am looking forward to working with him for the first time. He is playing a wonderful role as Willum’s best friend, a cynical man about town who drinks a little too much and who has all the zingy lines. It is a fun role to play.”
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre patrons are asked to make ticket reservations in advance because seats are reserved at all performances except Thursday evening preview shows, which are general admission. Reservations may be made by calling the theater box office at 724-537-8900. Theatre patrons may also make reservations online by going to www.svst.org. A credit card is required for on-line reservations, and such reservations are transferable, but non-refundable.
Individual tickets are $10 for preview performances, $19 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, $22 on Friday and Saturday evenings and $16 for matinees. Special theatre party group rates apply to groups of 20 guests or more. Senior citizens, 62 or older, are eligible for a $2 discount upon request on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings only. Special subscription plans are also available. Four-show and three-show subscription plans are again being offered this season. In addition, student tickets are available for $10 for any seat, any performance.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre performances are all scheduled in the comfortable, air-conditioned Performing Arts Center of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the Saint Vincent College campus. Free van shuttle service will continue to be provided to and from the spacious and convenient parking areas adjacent to the Saint Vincent Basilica.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre will continue to feature its well-known Cabaret, the special after-the-show party to which all theatre patrons are invited. Saint Vincent students serve snacks, hot dogs and beverages after the production and also provide entertainment. The cabaret is open after all performances except Thursday preview shows and all matinees. Theatre officials encourage donations if patrons enjoy themselves at the after-the-show party.
Upcoming productions include Too Many Cooks June 20 to July 6, I Love a Piano July 11 to 27, and Lend Me a Tenor August 1 to 18.
The 24th annual Saint Vincent Summer Theatre Gala will be held Friday, July 12. All proceeds benefit the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre. To receive an invitation or further details, phone 724-805-2901.
A free brochure is available by contacting the Saint Vincent Theatre box office at 724 537-8900.
Photos: Karen Baum, Tony Bingham, Renata Marino, Kevin Daniel O’Leary, Alex Walton and Philip Winters.
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