Dirty White Boy: “The Foreigner” visits Winter Garden

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The Foreigner: Keith Smith who plays "Charlie" the foreigner (Photo courtesy: The Garden Theatre)

For the next few weeks, Winter Garden Theatre is presenting “The Foreigner,” a certain crowd pleasing experience written by Larry Shue. To be quite honest, I entered a skeptic, expecting nothing more than a poorly acted, poorly directed, and poorly staged production. After all, Winter Garden… Comedy… think about it. What really happened… what do you think?

The Foreigner: Keith Smith who plays "Charlie" the foreigner (Photo courtesy: The Garden Theatre)

More than pleasantly surprised at the overall package, “The Foreigner,” produced by the Jester Theater Company, delivered.

Directed by Jay Hopkins, the first act introduced “Charlie” as the definitive outsider entombed, burdened, and defined by Emile Durkheim’s social anomie, a world lacking empathy, support, and acceptance, where the individual is often bullied to the brink of nonexistence. For the entire world to see, through Charlie the tradition of anomie resided under the microscope.

Seeking a dramatic depiction with climactic conclusion… you’ll just have to find out for yourself. After all, what happens under the microscope stays under the microscope.

The second act sprinted to a mocking pace. It was here where the audience enjoyed rib-tickling laughter while witnessing each character ripen into a no-longer unreachable caricature. Though often acting with the help of hyperbole, each cast member’s performance deserves undivided recognition:

Keith Smith upstaged all as his portrayal of Charlie highlighted diversity and a touching life-force. His quirky behavior and eventual transformation into social identification lifted all from a singular translation onto a galaxy of multi-dimensional spheres.

Bill Warriner played Froggy, a focused military chap who positioned Charlie into the role of a dim-witted foreigner. To Bill’s applause, if not for such quick thinking, one only wonders what would have happened to Charlie if… gotta go to figure this one out on your own.

Elizabeth Murff, the elderly lodge owner known as Betty, blanketed all with her Southern charm, naïve acceptance, and timely wit. Though not the center of attraction, she was the glue which held the line.

Brett Waldon, this karaoke singer and Dr. Pepper drinker played the Reverend David Lee. Somewhat predictable in his role, Brett showered the platform by handling the bad guy routine with a great deal of appetite. I look forward to seeing this young actor evolve as he progresses into profounder characters.

Don Fowler, our Dirty White Boy “Owen,” partnered with the double-sworded reverend to swindle little old Betty out of her lodge. With plans to establish a KKK headquarters deep in the heart of the South, Owen refreshed resistance but refused to flee without a fight… on the brink of a battle, a song collides.

Will Hagaman, portraying Ellard, scored a perfect ten. Will’s ability to merge heart and soul into this character was impressive and heartwarming. No doubt a talented comedian worthy of additional looks; he can be followed on Twitter@willhaga. For those wanting laughs on a regular basis, you want to check this one out.

Gemma Fearn’s stage presence lifted beyond the role as Catherine. She is living proof that dreams can (and do) come true. As with Will, I eagerly anticipate her continued growth and community involvement.

My second trip to the Garden Theatre proved to be a winning one.

For those seeking a solid comedy echoing laughter, take the drive and welcome “The Foreigner” a spot in your heart. For ticket and additional information, call 407.877.4736 or go to their website: www.gardentheatre.org.

No longer sitting in the cheap seats, I am

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

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