Larry Shue's The Foreigner opened at the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert's Historic District last Friday. The Examiner had this to say about it: "The Hale Theatre Centre has done it again! Larry Shue's extremely popular comedy The Foreigner opened Friday night in a delightful, exceptionally well-acted production, beautifully directed by multi-AriZoni Award winning director Lori Towne. The Foreigner will run through October 16 and should be added to your must-see play list."
The Examiner closed its review stating, "The Foreigner is possibly more relevant than when it was written some twenty-five years ago. The play is not afraid to show a redneck, white trash sub-culture that is more interested in flexing its muscle power than in flexing its brain power. Shue proves that ignorance can truly be bliss, indeed, blissfully and shockingly funny."
Director Lori Towne has assembled a marvelous cast for her production of The Foreigner, including Eric Brekke as Charlie Baker (the foreigner of the title), Robert Holt as Sergeant Froggy LeSueur, Rob Stuart as the Rev. David Lee Marshall, Barbara McGrath as Betty Meeks, Scott McGee as Owen, Mallory Adams as Catherine Simms and Skyler Bean as Ellard Simms.
The Examiner enthused about Barbara McGrath as Betty Meeks writing that she is "... delightfully warm and endearing as she shouts her every word at the supposedly clueless Charlie, hoping that he will understand her."
The Examiner spoke with Ms. McGrath about the The Foreigner as well as her distinctive theater career.
Q: What can you tell us about the new production of Larry Shue's The Foreigner at Hale Theatre?
A: It's one of the funniest shows I have ever read and done. I think it's going to be a wonderful production. It's been made family friendly for Hale audiences, as their shows always are. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a room full of people talking in a foreign language that they don't know you can understand, well, you might hear almost anything.
Q: What other productions have you been a part of at Hale?
A: The Foreigner is actually my ninth show at Hale. I work there a lot. I just finished The Princess and the Pea for their Children's Theater. I was doing that at the same time I was doing The Tale of the Allergist's Wife for Tempe Little Theatre. Last year for Hale, I did April Ann. I was also in Lend Me a Tenor, Dear Ruth, Pillow Talk, Come low Your Horn, Fiddler on the Roof and Over the River and Through the Woods.
Q: What other Valley theater companies have you worked with?
A: Just about all of them! I have worked with the Herberger Lunchtime Theater, the Algonquin Theatre Company, Stagebrush, Nearly Naked Theatre, Theater Works, Tempe Little Theatre, among so many others.
Q: Do you have any funny/odd theater experiences to share?
A: I have been acting since I was nine so I have had lots of them. Most of them involve actors not making their supposed entrances.
I think one of my funniest and scary ones was in The Gin Game. It's a two character play. It has this series of gin games. One night, the other actor and I realized in scene three, out of four, that he had jumped to the final card game at the end of the show and we still had another entire scene to go. We finished that scene and exited and then immediately came right back on wondering, "What are we going to do?"
We played the last scene and when we came to what should have been final card game, we improvised a whole new game. Happily, no one in the audience really knew what had happened. That's when the theater is truly magical. When you are working opposite an actor that you have come to know really well. You just connect, look at each other and somehow read each other's minds.
Q: Tell us about those four AriZoni Awards!
A: Those awards were for Pillow Talk, Lost in Yonkers, The Food Chain and Exit the King.
Q: What would you consider your favorite role that you've played?
A: I have had so many. One of my favorites was Aida in Over the River and Through the Woods.
Q: Are there any roles that still call out to you?
A: I would love to play the mother in Bye Bye Birdie. I love her monologue. I just love that Jewish mother role. I have always wanted to do some Maggie Smith stuff. I love Lettice and Lovage. And then maybe retire! Learning lines is not one of my favorite things in the world.
Q: What's next for you?
A: Typical of actors' insecurity, every time I finish a show, I am always thinking, "Oh gosh will anyone ever let me do anything again!" I always say, "I'm going to quit" but then three things come up and there I am learning lines again! I would love to do Over the River and Through the Woods again. There are two companies doing it this season. It's just waiting for the next thing to come along.
Read the full Examiner review: Larry Shue's The Foreigner reviewed at Hale Centre Theatre. See what director Lori Towne had to say about the marvelous production: Lori Towne directs Hale CentreTheatre's The Foreigner.
Photos and graphic artwork courtesy of Hale Centre Theatre.
For more information about The Foreigner's performance schedule and/or ticket prices and availability, please contact Hale Centre Theatre directly either ON LINE or the box office at (480)-497-1181.
Hale Centre Theatre 50 West Page Ave, Gilbert 85233