Theater Review: The Foreigner enjoyable at Beloit’s New Court Theatre

Larry Shue’s comedy, The Foreigner, currently playing at the New Court Theatre in Beloit, Wis., presents the fine ensemble an opportunity to display their talents for comedy. Outstanding are Alex and Nathan Burkart. Both are seniors at St. Louis’ Webster University and have become significant actors at Webster and here in Beloit. Both have appeared in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues and complete the cycle in the final play of the current season in Broadway Bound.

Alex as Charlie Baker, the shy visitor to a fishing lodge in Georgia, becomes the foreigner. Unable to communicate his persona is that of one who cannot speak English. If he had not said a word during the entire evening, his physical and facial expressions would have told the entire story. Nathan, an equal in every way, is Ellard Simms, the “slow” brother of Catherine (Libby Amato). His awkward speech belies his insight into human behavior. The interaction between the two Burkarts highlights the production.

Carolyn Cadigan, familiar to local theater goers for her work at NAT and Artists’ Ensemble, is Betty Meeks, owner of the lodge, convinced that by shouting she can make her foreign guest understand English. Steve Cardamone is Froggy LeSuer, the English soldier who introduces us to Charlie. His amazement at Charlie’s evolution into the darling of everyone balances the plot.

Amato’s role, the Southern debutante hoping to marry the Reverend David Marshall Lee (Jim Burling) evolves well from the ditsy girl to outspoken woman. Phil McNassar is Owen Musser plotting to take Betty’s home and leading the local KKK.

Larry Shue wrote his work several years ago, and there are scenes that reflect the time warp, but his genius in devising humorous situations never fails to engender waves of laughter.

New Court has become a summer theater destination for many. The short drive to Beloit, always pleasant, contributes to the evening’s enjoyment. Playing through July 28, The Foreigner, as Director Amy Sarno says in her notes… “it is through other people that we begin to understand ourselves.”

For ticket information, call the Box Office at (608) 363-2755.

from the July 25-31, 2007, issue

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