Shawn Stalter, Contributing Critic - Dallas/Ft. Worth
Garland Civic Theater delivered yet another top-tier show with their recent production of the hilarious international comedy, “The Foreigner.” Written by Larry Shue, “The Foreigner” spins a tale of two Englishmen, “Froggy” and “Charlie,” and their interaction with the locals at a rustic Georgia hunting lodge.
At the start of this story, the shy and timid “Charlie” agonizes over the prospect of interacting with anyone at the lodge. His hopes to spend a few days in peace quickly shatter as “Froggy” develops a hair-brained scheme which calls for Charlie to pretend he is a foreigner unable to understand or speak a word of English. Unfortunately, this ruse quickly comes off the tracks as Charlie unwittingly becomes an active participant in the lives of the locals and finds himself in the middle of a brewing scandal.
The cast of Garland Civic Theater’s production of “The Foreigner” gave inspired, well-rounded and dynamic performances. In the lead role of “Charlie,” Gary Eoff aptly captured the absurdity of his character’s situation and his increasingly-deeper immersion into the “foreigner” persona. Additionally, Tom McWhorter’s portrayal of the xenophobic and abrasive “Owen Musser” certainly grabbed the audience’s attention.
Those unfamiliar with the story or the world view of “Owen” found themselves wincing in disgust at his racist tirade and aspirations to craft a home for the “invisible empire” of the Ku-Klux-Klan. When “Charlie” and “Owen’s” personalities collide, the audience was treated to intense, albeit, highly-entertaining interactions. In addition to “Owen” and “Charlie,” Heather Smothers’ performance of the sweet and simple lodge owner, “Betty,” was spot-on.
Beyond the performances this talented cast delivered, the production also soared on the wings of the exceptional stage design which transported the audience to a quaint and cozy, rural Georgia lodge. Despite some obstructed sight lines which made it difficult to keep pace with all of the action unfolding onstage, the cast and crew did a great job working all angles of the spacious stage to keep the audience engaged. Although this was the last performance of Garland Civic Theater’s run of “ The Foreigner,” their upcoming lineup promises additional high-caliber entertainment for DFW theatergoers.
Garland Civic Theater’s production of “The Foreigner” was directed by Juan M. Perez and produced by David Tinney. The show’s cast included Gary Eoff as “Charlie Baker,” David Noel as Sergeant “Froggy” LeSueur, Heather Smothers as “Betty Meeks,” Russell Sims as “Rev. David Marshall Lee,” Stephanie Oustalet as “Catherine Simms” , Tom McWhorter as “Owen Musser,” and Steven Pedro as “Ellard Simms.” Shauna Holloway served as stage manager, Hank Baldree as set designer, props courtesy of Kerra Sims and sound by Brittany Mantsch.
Learn more about upcoming shows at Garland Civic Theater by visiting www.garlandarts.com or calling 972-205-2790.
Photo credit: Russell Sims