By Larisa Hicken
The Foreigner, written by Larry Shue, is one of those shows that everyone seemed to be talking about lately, but somehow I kept missing opportunities to see it. When I heard it was being directed by Howard and Kathryn Little and performed by the Pleasant Grove Players, I seized the opportunity – and now I understand what all the hype is about!
The Foreigner tells the story of Charlie, a shy, proper, and boring Englishman who has a fear of speaking to strangers. When Charlie is brought by his friend Froggy to a lodge in rural Georgia, Charlie panics at the idea of interacting with strangers because he thinks he doesn’t have a real personality. Froggy decides to tell everyone that Charlie is a foreigner who doesn’t speak English so that they won’t talk to him.
Unfortunately, everyone is excited about this “foreigner” and they enthusiastically begin confiding in him since they think he can’t understand what they’re saying. Charlie finds himself in the middle of a dangerous adventure and realizes that he must find a way to save the day – without revealing his true identity!
The part of Charlie Baker is played by Jason Purdie. I was exhausted just watching him throughout the night as he pantomimed and paraded around the stage. His gestures and movements were hilarious and I was in awe of his creativity. Purdie is a true master of the stage and I would go see any show just because it has him in it.
The chemistry between Purdie and actress Kara Henry who played Catherine was terrific and I really enjoyed their interactions. Henry is a beautiful actress who makes it hard to look anywhere else when she is on the stage. I found her facial expressions very entertaining and her character was well-developed.
Kara Henry’s real-life husband, David Henry, plays her fiancé in the show, Reverend David Marshall Lee. He is the perfect villian because he has such an innocent look about him. He did a terrific job of portraying a believable con man. His accent was flawless and his timing was perfect.
Charlie’s buddy Froggy is played by Marty Cooper. We didn’t see a lot of Cooper, but he was a delightful character. I wondered about his accent which seemed to come and go at times, but I appreciated his energy and strong physical presence.
The quirky Betty Meeks is played by Donna Bingham and she was quite amusing with her intensity and passion for the foreigner. I felt like she might have been reaching for lines a few times due to some small pauses, but she covered it well and kept the momentum up anyway. Her interactions with Froggy were a lot of fun.
Kyle Vorkink plays Ellard Simms, Catherine’s young brother. He was quite talented for such a young actor. He seemed a little nervous at first, but as the show progressed he really found his character and impressed me with his polished performance.
I was truly frightened by Dennis Purdie who played the ignorant and evil Owen Musser. He nailed the backwater hillbilly so well that I made sure to speak with him after the show to see whether he was actually playing a part. I’m relieved to say that he really is that good of an actor! At times, he reminded me of comedy great Norman Fell with his zany facial expressions and crazy antics.
The set was well-designed by Wendy and Kelly Rosenlof as it presented just enough obstacles that it provided for fun blocking. Costumes were fun, particularly those worn by Kara Henry. Costume designer, Luone Ingram, did a good job of setting the time period in a natural way.
Overall this was a memorable and entertaining show that I wouldn’t mind seeing again before it’s through. I’m so glad that I finally got to know The Foreigner. If you haven’t met The Foreigner before, you don’t want to miss this one!
Keith Christenson Little Theater, PG Library, 30 East Center, Pleasant Grove, Utah
April 18 – May 12 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m.
$9.00 – $10.00
Please no babes-in-arms or children under 5.