On stage at Peninsula Players from June 27 through July 22, Larry Shue’s hilarious comedy “The Nerd” promises to delight audiences once again in its return.
Shue’s offbeat comedy “The Nerd” premièred at the Milwaukee Rep in 1981. In 1982 it played in Manchester, England and at the Aldwych Theatre in London in 1984, where it set records for earned income by an American play on the West End. In 1984 it was a hold-over hit at Peninsula Players, starring Richard R. O’Donnell. “The Nerd” made its Broadway debut in 1987, two years after Shue’s untimely death in a plane crash.
Willum has it all! He has a promising career as an architect in Terre Haute, Indiana, devoted friends and, hopefully, a serious girlfriend. All is threatened when Rick, a man who saved Willum’s life in the war, but whom he has never met, arrives unannounced on his doorstep. Rick’s obnoxious behavior places everything in Willum’s life in jeopardy. Rick, a chalk inspector, has no social sense, and even less tact. Nice-guy Willum has to buckle down and try to out-nerd his overbearing house guest to save his sanity, career and love life.
“The Nerd” cast is a mix of new and returning Peninsula Players who will be under the direction of Linda Fortunato, who directed last year’s hit comedy “The Fox on the Fairway.” Returning to the Players’ stage are Lee E. Ernst, Sean Fortunato, Erin Noel Grennan, Tim Monsion, Karen Janes Woditsch and newcomers Paul Slade Smith and Bennett Rabach.
Smith makes his Players debut playing the hapless Willum. Paul Slade Smith has been on national tour with the musical “Wicked” playing Dr. Dillamond and also toured with “Phantom of the Opera.” His play, “Unnecessary Farce” was staged at the Players in 2007.
Grennan (“Making God Laugh,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Foreigner”) plays Willum’s love interest, Tansy, a television weather forecaster who is considering a job offer in Washington D.C. Her regional credits include “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and “Blithe Spirit” with Chicago’s First Folio and “Reckless” with Cincinnati Playhouse.
Fortunato (“Making God Laugh,” “Unnecessary Farce,” “Cabaret,” “Doubt,” “The Importance of Being Earnest”) returns to the Players stage playing the nerd, Rick. His regional credits include “Travels with my Aunt,” “The Real Thing” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” with Writers’ Theatre and “Willy Wonka,” “Measure for Measure” and “Timon of Athens” with Chicago Shakespeare.
Monsion (“Opus,” “Heroes,” “Communicating Doors,” “Odd Couple,” “The Fox on the Fairway”) is cast as Willum’s buddy Axel, a curmudgeon. Monsion’s work at regional theaters include The Goodman Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Hasty Pudding, Cincinnati Playhouse, Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum and many others. Last year he performed with L.A. Theatre Works in “Death of a Salesman” with Stacey Keach.
Ernst (“Opus,” “A Few Good Men” and “The Fox on the Fairway”) plays Willium’s testy client, Warnock “Ticky” Waldgrave. Ernst has played leading roles for American Players Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and Arizona Theater. He is a member of the Milwaukee Rep’s resident acting company, performing such roles as Willy Loman, Atticus Finch, Sherlock Holmes, Tartuffe, Frank Lloyd Wright and numerous others.
Woditsch (“God of Carnage,” “The Fox on the Fairway,” “Red Herring,” “A Few Good Men”) plays Clelia Waldgrave, Ticky’s very patience wife. She was recently nominated for a Joseph Jefferson award for her role of Julia Child in “To Master the Art” at TimeLine Theatre.
Rabach will play Thor Waldgrave, Ticky’s and Cecilia’s very ill-tempered boy. Rabach will be in the seventh grade at Sevastopol School in Door County. He has participated in several productions at Third Avenue Playhouse, including the role of Romeo in “Arrivederci Verona.”
Prior to performances, Players patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambiance of the beer garden and other gardens. Peninsula Players is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and employs professional actors for all of its productions.
Peninsula Players performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7:30 pm except for a 4 pm matinee Wednesday, July 4 and Sunday, July 22. Individual ticket prices for “The Nerd” range from $33 to $39; discount tickets are available for groups of 15 or more. Individual tickets are also available. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets, phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920.868.3287 or visit the website at PeninsulaPlayers.com.
Peninsula Players is America’s oldest professional resident summer theater and is unique in the country for its diverse productions, continuing loyalty to a resident company, and its beautiful setting of 16 wooded acres along the cedar-lined shores of Green Bay. In the past 77 years, the theater has become a Door County landmark and its cornerstone arts institution, attracting audience members from throughout Wisconsin and across the country. For more information, visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or call 920.868.3287.
The Nerd (June 27 – July 22) by Larry Shue. A hilarious comedy from the creator of The Foreigner, ” …the audience almost never stops laughing —handkerchiefs wiping away tears of merriment…” —Variety.
Chicago (July 25- August 12) A Tony-award winning musical filled with razzle and dazzle. Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse; music by John Kander; lyrics by Fred Ebb; based on the play Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins.
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile (Aug. 15 – Sept. 2) An exotic whodunit from the Queen of Suspense. Can you guess who the murderer is?
Lombardi (Sept. 5 – Oct. 14) by Eric Simonson. Based on the book “When Pride Still Mattered – A Life of Vince Lombardi” written by David Maraniss. Vince Lombardi comes home to northeast Wisconsin in this play fresh off Broadway.
June 27 – Sept. 1, Tues. – Sat. 8 pm; Sun. 7:30 pm except Wed., July 4 at 4 pm.
EXECEPT SUNDAYS July 22, August 12 and Sept. 2 at 4 pm.
Sept. 5 – Oct. 13, Tues. – Sun. 7 pm.
EXECEPT SUNDAYS September 16, 23 and October 14 at 4 pm.
Ticket prices: Non-Musicals Rows A-K (1-10 )$39, Rows L-O (11-14 )$36 and Rows P- S (15-18) $33, Musicals: Rows A-K (1-10 )$42, Rows L-O (11-14) $39 and Rows P- S (15-18) $36 Group rates are available.