From left, Greyson Lewis, Elizabeth Dimon, Matt Lunsford, Chris Crawford, Natalie Symons, Dan Matisa, & Gavin Hawk star in American Stage Theatre’s The Foreigner.
ST. PETERSBURG – The Foreigner, an award - winning comedy written by Larry Shue and directed by Matt Chiorini, is playing July 18-Aug. 19, at American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg.
The Foreigner is a crowd-pleasing farce about what happens when a stranger comes to town and discovers lessons in humanity.
Sneak peak week is July 18-26 with opening night scheduled on July 27. The show closes Aug. 19.
American Stage is offering a thank you to its patrons by offering a week of extended preview performances, which includes two pay-what-you-can nights Wednesday and Thursday, July 19, 7:30 p.m.
Six sneak peak week performances are scheduled on Friday, July 20, 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 21, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 22, 3 p.m.; Wednesday, July 25, 7:30 p.m.; and Thursday, July 26, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $29 general admission.
American Stage Theatre Company delivers loads of laughter to the Raymond James Theatre with their final Mainstage production of the 2011-2012 season. This comedic romp was written by American playwright Larry Shue and has become a popular production for regional theatres throughout the country.
The Foreigner takes place in a fishing lodge resort in rural Georgia. The plot evolves when two out of town guests, Staff Sergeant Froggy LeSueur and his friend Charlie Baker visit the lodge. In order to help explain Charlie’s extreme shyness, Froggy claims his friend does not speak or understand any English. Charlie becomes a silent observer and confidante for other visitors’ conversations, as it is assumed he cannot understand the language.
The director of The Foreigner, Matt Chiorini, has this to say about the character of Charlie, “Oscar Wilde famously said: "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
Charlie spends the bulk of the play in a "mask" and it really allows him to flourish in a way he never thought possible when he first arrives. By subverting his truer, more socially awkward self, Charlie finds himself becoming a good listener and a better friend, and as a result, the people around him blossom as well.
“With our wide array of social media technological gadgetry we sometimes forget the power of simple human connection and how putting our attention onto another person is the surest path to any kind of personal growth,” Chiorini said.
Larry Shue developed the idea for The Foreigner after studying with a theatre company in Japan in 1980. The playwright realized his behavior was not in line with Japanese social customs and while tolerated, his actions were dismissed as the conduct of an outsider.
Chiorini says this of Shue’s play, “the playwright is firmly focused on showing the audience a good time first and foremost and inviting them to a fun and funny night at the theatre.”
The Foreigner opened Nov. 1, 1984 in New York’s Astor Place Theatre where is ran for 686 performances and won two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Off- Broadway Production and Best New American Play. Larry Shue died in a plane crash in 1985.
The American Stage Theatre cast for The Foreigner features seven actors, four of whom are returning to American Stage.
English born Matt Lunsford plays Staff Sgt. Froggy LeSueur and was last seen at American Stage in Blithe Spirit. The character of Betty Meeks, owner of the fishing lodge, is played by Elizabeth Dimon who has been active in the theatre community of Florida for 25 years.
Gavin Hawk plays the Rev. David Marshall Lee, and is well known at American Stage for his performance in last season’s Barefoot in the Park and as one half of Hawk and Wayne, who have performed their long-form improv shows as part of the Sunday Comedy Series for the past three years. The role of Owen Musser is played by Dan Matisa, whose last role at American Stage was Opus.
Three actors are making their American Stage debut.
The role of Charlie Baker is played by Chris Crawford, who serves as the producing artistic director and co-founder of Playhouse Tulsa.
Catherine Simms is played by Natalie Symons. Tampa Bay audiences last saw Symons as Becky in Becky Shaw at freeFall Theatre.
Ellard Simms is played by Greyson Lewis recently brought the new company Seven Day Shakespeare from New York to Los Angeles.
The Foreigner is directed by Matt Chiorini who returns as a director after appearing onstage in Fully Committed and Much Ado About Nothing several years ago. Chiorini is in his second year as the director of the theatre program at Lemoyne College.
The scenic designer is Tom Hansen who is designing his third production at American Stage after the recent hits Driving Miss Daisy and Barefoot in the Park. Hansen is in his 13th season as the production designer at the Show Palace Theatre located in Spring Hill.
Costume designer is Trish Kelley, whose work was last seen in their productions of Barefoot in the Park, Rocky Horror Show, and The Seafarer. The lighting designer is Michael Newton-Brown, who has designed for both American Stage in the Park and Mainstage for many years.
American Stage Theatre’s Mainstage Lecture Series presented for The Foreigner is on Sunday, July 15, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
American Stage Education Mainstage Lecture Series features Dedee Aleccia, a retired literature professor, who will speak on the history and background of The Foreigner. Following her presentation, a member of the artistic staff will talk about their approach to the production. The lectures are $5 for subscribers and $7 for the public.
The Foreigner will be performed in two acts with one intermission.
Performance times and ticket prices are as follows: $29 for Sneak Peak Week performances Preview Nights July 20-July 26; and $35 to $47 July 28-Aug. 19 depending on date and time of performances. Pay-what-you-can performances are July 18 and July 19
Wednesday and Thursday curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday curtain is at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinee curtain is at 3 p.m.
Student advance tickets are $20 and student rush tickets are $10, 30 minutes prior to curtain. Group Ticket Pricing Packages are also available. For tickets, please call the American Stage Box Office at 727-823-PLAY (7529)
American Stage Theatre Company is located at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N. in downtown St. Petersburg. Visit www.americanstage.org.