TWS home page

THE NERD  by Larry Shue
by Larry Shue
Directed by Tony Vezner

September 7 - 17, 2000
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8:00PM Sundays at 2:30PM Also, Sunday, Sept. 10 at 7:30PM Saturday, Sept. 16 at 2:30PM

Back to archive photos

Goofiness takes center stage! Willum Gilbert has it all - a promising career as an architect, devoted friends, even, maybe, a serious girlfriend.  But then Rick Steadman, the ultimate social misfit, comes to visit and puts everything in peril. The Nerd escalates into madcap farce as Willum tries to out-nerd his sanity-destroying houseguest.

The Nerd Cast and Crew

The Nerd Cast and Crew
(Click pictures for a larger, printable view)
The setting, Terre Haute, Indiana, 1985
Tansy McGinnis, Inge Baugh
Axel Hammond, Mark Favoino
Willum Cubbert, Jack Calvert
Thor Waldgrave, David Bodell
Clelia Waldgrave, Peg Callaghan
Warnick Waldgrave, Bill Rotz
Rick Steadman, Terry Locke
Production Crew
Director's Note
About the Author
About the Play
The Shue I Knew

Production Crew

Tony Vezner
Stage Manager
Betty Nelson
Assistant Stage Managers
Pat Giesler, Mike Mallon
Costume Designers
Karen Babcock, Caroline Redding
Costume Crew
Catherine Bloomer, Marsha Grohne,
Ann Head, Linda Lee Metz,
Margaret Nikoleit, Liz Skrezyna
Craig Mahlstedt
Lighting Designers
Noel Smith, Ruth Smith
Lighting Crew
Linda Freveletti, Sandy Liakus,
Tom Pfeil, Paul Roach, Rob Snyder,
Alicia Todd, Stephanie Williams
Makeup Designers
Suzanne Nyhan Anthoney, Eileen Duban
Makeup Crew
Jamie Hoehn, Kim Hurley, Jennifer Jindrich
Properties Designers
Mary Pavia, Linda O'Day Young
Properties Crew
Tim Feeney, Stephanie Williams
Set Designer
Archie Benfield
Set Construction Chairs
Mark Hewitt, Tom Squillo
Set Construction Crew
Leon Briick, Joe Delaloye,
George Dempsey, Kirby Harris,
John Otto, Paul Roach, Bill Rotz
Set Painting Chairs
Pat Huth, Sandy Squillo
Set Painting Crew
Jani Bodell, Tricia Boren, Mark Cunningham, Tim Feeney, Tom Frohnapfel,
Jan Frommelt, Donna Marie Kanak,
Laura Michicich, Susan Remy
Sound Designer
Heinz Karplus
Sound Crew
Linda Freveletti, Tom Frohnapfel,
Betsy Gurlacz, Jack Uretsky
Technical Director
Rick Young
Production Activities Chair
Megan Wells
Production Box Office Chair
Mary Ellen Schutt
Production Box Office Crew
Susan Cardamone, Ruth Cekal,
George Dempsey, Mary Dempsey,
Terry Fanning, Terry Kozlowski, Barbara Lupo, JoAnn Mallon, Jill Neely, Lori B. Proksa,
Joan Roeder, Patti Roeder, Janet Ryan-Grasso, Paulette Sarussi, Mary Smith, Sandy Squillo, Don Strueber, Carol Suda, Virginia Swinnen, Marilyn Wilson
Production Hospitality Crew
John Archer, Carol Clarke,
Chet Dubowski, Charlie Egan,
Liz Egan, Bonnie Hilton,
Karin Kramer, Kathleen Kusper,
Arlene Page, Janette Taft
Production Lobby Photo Display
Marjorie Mason Heffernan, Jane Stacy
Production Poster Chair
Kathleen Kusper
Production Program Chair
Joel Nikoleit
Production Program Design
John Vilhauer
Production Publicity Chair
Arlene Page

Director's Note
A play's environment can be a powerful element to be reckoned with by directors, actors, and audience members. After all, if you want to understand a person (even a fictional character), you have to understand where they have come from and where they live.  
So, why did Larry Shue set The Nerd in Terre Haute, Indiana?
Terre Haute is one of those cities in Indiana that, like Muncie (where I lived briefly) and Gary, has developed an inferiority complex. Many authors have taken pot shots at this unpretentious city of 57,000 which sits so comfortably on the banks of the Wabash River.  At the conclusion of the Steve Martin movie Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, for instance, the hero and heroine discover that the Nazis have regrouped after the war and developed a weapon that will destroy America. The nefarious plan is stopped just as the Nazis are firing up the weapon, thus saving all of America except, of course, poor Terre Haute. The unfazed Martin mourns the city's fictional loss with just one line: "Damn, and they were just about to get a new library!"
There are a number of absurdities and inconsistencies in The Nerd that point out Terre Haute's perceived inadequacy. Axel is supposedly a theatre critic.  Anyone who has been to Terre Haute would know that such a character could never live in Terre Haute in real life. Terre Haute has only one small amateur theatre-slim pickings for a theatre critic unless the paper also had him cover such events as the city's annual buffalo chip throwing contest (which you can review yourself on September 16 this year at the Native American Museum in Terre Haute). Actually, Terre Haute's oldest historic landmark is a theatre-the Hippodrome-however it is now known as the Scottish Rite Lodge.
In the second act, Axel and Kemp claim that they are going to the dedication of Terre Haute's new art center that is built "entirely out of creosote"-an obvious reference to Terre Haute's reputation for its coal production and industry rather than its art. Indeed, a brief search of artistic and cultural happenings in Terre Haute from now to the end of the year turned up such events as the "Dugger Coal Festival and Fun Days", the "Diesel Extravaganza 2000", and the "Bleemel
Days" at the Bleemel Flour and Feed building-all events to which our Axel would turn up his nose.
So, enjoy The Nerd knowing that it is not only the product of a rich comic imagination, but of a city that has-hopefully, considering the scorn heaped upon it in the name of a good laugh-developed a sense of humor about itself.

About the Author
Larry H. Shue was born New Orleans on July 23, 1946 and spent his early youth first in Louisiana, and then in Eureka, Kansas. The family, including his sister Jackie (the other member of the famous performing team "the Dancing Shues"), moved to Glen Ellyn, Illinois by the mid-'50s. Larry attended Glenbard West High School, and while there, he played Bottom in A
Midsummer Night's Dream. He studied theater at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he penned his first script, a children's musical: My Emperor's New Clothes. His one-act play, Grandma Duck is Dead, is an exaggerated memoir of
his college years.
Larry graduated in 1969. He served three years in the Army with the U.S.C. at Fort Lee, Virginia. After his discharge, he worked in professional dinner theatre. Soon thereafter, he joined the Milwaukee Rep Company. Although he was hired as an actor (and appeared in David Mamet's American Buffalo,
George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's Merton of the Movies, and others), he was encouraged to write plays by the company's director, John Dillon.
By the early '80s, Larry's career was exploding. He moved to New York City and performed in his own works (The Foreigner) as well as other's (Joseph Papp's production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.) He won two Obie Awards and
two New York Drama Critics Awards. He continued to write and was honing ideas for new plays, a musical, and "sit coms". Disney had taken a movie option on his play The Foreigner.
Tragically, Larry's life and career were cut short by a commuter plane crash in Virginia during an electrical storm on September 23, 1985.
TWS has previously produced two of Larry Shue's plays, The Foreigner in June of 1987 and Wenceslas Square in April of 1991.

About the Play
The Nerd is Larry Shue's first full-length play, and it had its initial performance in April of 1981. The Milwaukee Rep Company produced it while Larry was a member of that theater's acting core and also its playwright in residence. The author was cast in the role of Willum Cubbert.  The play has subsequently been produced in a wide array of venues and countries. In 1982, it crossed the Atlantic for a production in Manchester, England. Rowan Atkinson played the title character in London in 1984. A New York production in 1987 featured Mark Hammil of Star Wars fame and was directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. Variety noted that "the audience almost never stops laughing" at this most unusual of situation comedies.
The Nerd has become a mainstay of community and regional theaters. In its
better moments, it is classic Midwestern farce-a genre that it could almost claim to have generated itself. Remember, it pre-dates Fargo by more than twenty years!
The Shue I Knew
by Craig Mahlstedt

Where to begin? You know how there are just some people in your life who are unforgettable? I mean, if you are lucky, there are. I've been lucky. I met Larry Shue early In my college career and remained his friend for almost 20 years. Larry even honored our friendship by asking me to be the best man at his wedding. I have many memories of Larry, a number of which color my
affection for the play you are seeing tonight. After you view The Nerd, I think you will have some understanding of why Larry is so memorable. 
We "early Boomers" grew up in a wildly changing culture. We started out with Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, and we finished our college years with Archie Bunker and Easy Rider. There Larry and I sat in good ol' Bloomington, Illinois watching, literally (on network news) our country turn upside down. A little foreign adventure called Vietnam made all us "college guys" a lot more attentive to going to class. We sure didn't want to loose that 2S draft classification!  The war created a chaos for us. And it made most of us more cynical too. That helped to cover the fear. Larry turned our sense of chaos into comedy. And he gives us a taste of that cynical humor in the character of Axel. But that wasn't Larry. Larry was much more the Willum type. He was loaded with talent and kindness, and sort of  looking for a push, or as Tansy would say "a little gumption!"   The Nerd addresses the issue of talented people becoming too comfortable. It also talks to me about friendship, of "being cruel to be kind" as the Bard would say. Look, I'm not saying this is a masterwork-neither would Larry.  It's mostly just really funny! At moments, in my opinion, it's almost overstuffed with schtick. But most of the time it really makes us laugh-not
mean laughter, but laughter at ourselves. What we will put up with in specific situations out of certain feelings of obligation is both amazing and hilarious, especially when written by a crafty observer like Larry Shue. 
Well, I've most likely taken up enough of your time....The washroom should be free by now, or they are dimming the lights for Act II. I thank you for letting me share just a glimpse of my very memorable friend. I have one last memory to share.
At the memorial service for Larry, I was telling his mother Deloris (Snookie to friends and family) how sad it all was. She said, "Yes, but I'm always going to have my son's words with me-his wonderful words". How very right she was. Mothers always are.  I can never enter a theater without thinking of Larry Shue. I curse the day I received word of his death in 1985, but I thank God that Larry lived-and that I knew him.

Actives Web Site maintained by Judy DiVita
Back to TWS Home page.      tws.gif (1935 bytes)Back to TWS Home page.     newmasks.gif (9383 bytes)