I have seen the comedy "The Foreigner" before ... more than once. However, the Okoboji Summer Theatre 2014 version playing this week is the funniest yet. I loved it!
Scott Casper came from New York City to direct a cast comprised of two professional and five student actors, molding them into a cohesive unit. His trip to Okoboji was not in vain. The entire troupe came through for him on opening night. The nearly-packed house laughed and laughed.
The story centers around a non-American who has social skill problems and just wants to hide out for a while. His friend "Froggy" brings him to a rural Georgia hunting lodge and tells the proprietor that he cannot speak English. Froggy hopes that will allow for his friend to rest and relax as no one will talk to him. Wrong!
There is much mirth in everyone's attempts to talk with him or let out secrets to each other as they assume he is not understanding what is being said. The entire plot would be totally funny if it weren't for the threat of a "Klan" takeover. Those few serious moments brought total silence from the audience.
Sam Cordes is fantastic as the "Foreigner" Charlie. His dancing skills are hilarious and his facial expressions right on. Bravo Sam!
No one delivers a funny line with better timing than Rob Doyen. I have seen him in many roles but never before as a "hick" backwoodsman with a hateful mind. He wears a "Duck Dynasty" T-shirt and ugly tattoos. Get the picture? Doyen is the king of facial expression and we reaped the benefits of that talent from beginning to end. He is wonderful in the role of Owen.
I really enjoyed Carolyn Williams as the old hippie lodge owner Betty Meeks. She is extremely funny and has a gift for comedy. We owe a thank you to costume designer Cheyenne Smith for Betty's comical hippie wardrobe.
Husain Agha portrayed "Froggy" LeSueur. He carried himself with the proper stiffness of a military or law enforcement person. I would have liked to see a little more facial expression from him but he was good in that role.
The Rev. David Marshall Lee was played by Eddie Andrews. He was effective in the role. We liked him at the beginning and hated him at the end.
Xandra Prestia-Turner was delightful as Catherine Simms. She gave Catherine the right amount of sweetness and naivety.
You will adore Kyle Delaney in the role of Ellard Simms. Ellard is not the brightest star in the sky and Delaney has you wanting to protect and nurture the boy from beginning to end. His comedic timing was very good for a student. The breakfast eating scene with Ellard and Charlie required perfect timing and it was so funny ... extremely well done!
The set designed by Savannah Bell was terrific. It was adorned with the right amount of "hippie" paraphernalia. The hat and scarf on the deer head (remember ... it is a hunting lodge) was quite comical. You had no doubts from the very beginning that you were in a rundown hunting lodge in the backwoods somewhere.
"The Foreigner" is a must see for this summer. We were all ready for some laughs while recovering from RAGBRAI and we got many. To everyone involved in this production, hats off on a job well done!
The play runs through Sunday night. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, OST is located on Highway 71 at the north end of Okoboji.