Kevin Symons, French Stewart,
Ed F. Martin, Faith Colie Salie
I - November 4, 1980
II - Scene 1 - Six days later
Scene 2 - The following day
will be one intermission.
Shue: An Appreciation
By David Rose
Shue, a talented young actor and playwright, had his career cut short at
the age of 39 by the crash of a commuter plane in Weyer's Cove, Virginia,
in 1985. He left behind a small but celebrated body of work including a
children's musical, My Emperor's New Clothes, a one-act comic memoir about
his college years, Grandma Duck is Dead, a bittersweet political drama,
Wenceslas Square, set in 1974 Prague after the Soviet invasion, and two
twin comic achievements in The Nerd and The Foreigner, which have enjoyed
remarkable success worldwide.
was born in New Orleans in 1946 and grew up in Eureka, Kansas where he
directed his own plays in his family's garage on weekends, charging a penny
admission. He graduated cum laude with a degree in theatre arts from Illinois
Wesleyan University in 1968. From 1969 to 1972, Shue served in the U. S.
Army at Fort Lee, Virginia, playing an active leadership role in the post's
Entertainment Unit. The next several years were spent working around the
country as a professional actor.
was invited to join the resident acting company of the Milwaukee Repertory
Theatre in 1977, and within two years was their Playwright-in-Residence.
The Nerd was Larry Shue's first full-length play, and was produced by Milwaukee
Rep. in 1981 starring the playwright as Willum. In 1982 the play crossed
the Atlantic, playing first in Manchester, England, and later in a hugely
successful West End run starring Rowan Atkinson. As of 1990, The Nerd was
the all-time top grossing American play in Londonís West End. The Nerd
opened on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre in 1987, and has been produced
in all 50 states since. He followed up with The Foreigner at Milwaukee
Rep. in 1983, which moved Off-Broadway the following year with Shue himself
in the New York cast. It went on to become the fifth longest-running Off-Broadway
play in history.
1985 Larry Shue had won two Obie Awards, two New York Drama Critic's Circle
Awards, was performing in his own works as well as othersí (including Joseph
Papp's production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood), had finished Wenceslas
Square for his friends in Milwaukee, was honing ideas for new plays and
musicals including, in his words, "a comedy about growing old, death, disease
and rock 'n' roll."
all accounts I've read, Mr. Shue was a good deal like The Nerd's protagonist
Willum Cubbert: warm, big-hearted, decent, loaded with talent and kindness.
No one knows how much more Shue would have contributed to the American
theatre. We do know that the plays he left behind were funny, spirited,
ridiculously silly romps with a lot of heart - a comic actor's dream. I'm
not the first to wonder what else might have sprung forth from the imagination
of this inventive comic mind. We'll never know, but I suspect that a lot
of actors and theatre lovers have missed out on what might have been, if
only Larry Shue were alive and writing today.
about the effect of his comedies on audiences, Shue once said: "You have
tired, neurotic people filing in and you have kids coming out giggling
and flirting." Given the state of the world on any given day - I say, Amen
on the Boulevard, Ruth Bader, Anjali Bal, Priscilla Davis, Doug Haverty,
Art + Soul Designs,
Lippman, Phyllis Massing, Salvador Palacios, California Lighting
& Power, Mi Piac, Miriam Schneider, Bill Shaw, San Gabriel Civic Auditorium,
Mike Thayer, Wadler Data Systems, Tom Ware, The Pasadena Playhouse, Conwell
Worthington II, Conwell Worthington III
The Los Angeles Times
"The play combines
low humor, deft wit and the kind of broadly comic characterizations that
actors the world over would sacrifice their birthrights to play..."
Stage West Review
"[T]he play's wedding-cake
plot is a towering but solid structure upon which one-liners, double-entendres
and sight gags are layered in sticky abundance." With "pitch-perfect comic
timing" French Stewart [3rd Rock from the Sun] plays "a painfully
clueless goofball who drives everybody to distraction and beyond."
"Stewart isn't the only one
with terrific timing. This evening is very much about the acting, and the
sum of all these performances equals a hoot and a half." Ed F.Martin "excels
at sweet haplessness." Jonathan Palmer "is humorously humorless." Faith
Colie Salie "is a straight woman who can rattle off a scathing quip or
two.... Kevin Symons is formidably tart [and] Cindy Warden is a scream...even
young Justin M. Bretter plays...with the panache of an old pro.