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“The Foreigner” is first in the new Black Box Theatre season at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada. Performances run through Nov. 18: Wednesday matinee, 1 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee, 2 p.m. Tickets: arvadacenter.org/the-foreigner or 720-898-7200.
The lobby/dining area of a woodsy, somewhat worn, fishing lodge in Georgia has a welcoming desk, simple furnishings, an outside entry — large double doors at the rear of the set — and stairs to the upper rooms. Cleverly designed — a touch tacky — by
Arvada’s scenic designer Brian Mallgrave, it’s ready to carry a story or, actually, parallel stories.
Footsteps sound outside and British S/Sgt. “Froggy” Le Sueur (Josh Robinson), an explosives expert, bursts through the door, calling for his longtime friend, Betty Meeks (Edith Weiss), the lodge owner.
He brings with him a reluctant guest, his depressed buddy Charlie Baker (the excellent Sammie Joe Kinnett), a terribly shy man who dreads having to meet new people and talk with them. Froggy’s plan is to tell others Charlie doesn’t understand or speak English, so he can’t communicate with them. He hears an earful!
Director Geoffrey Kent has staged each scene to bring out the skills of his impressive cast, so there’s always a new focus, and the acting is so polished that one can enter into the goofy story without distractions. Charlie is to stay a few days while Froggy is off training troops to blow things up.
Others on the scene are: young heiress Catherine Simms (Jessica Robblee); her challenged brother, Ellard (Lance Rasmussen); Catherine’s shady fiancé, Rev. David Marshall (Zachary Andrews), and a really nasty villain, Owen Musser (Greg Ungar).Because Charlie in theory can’t understand them, all sorts of conversations go on in his presence—from intimate talk between Catherine and David, to plans to cheat Betty out of her property, to plans for the Klan take-over in the area.
And young Owen tries to teach Charlie English—in his own inimitable style.
The interaction of these carefully-crafted characters seems really wacky and disorganized at times, but is carefully choreographed for maximum delight among the audience members.
Charlie’s wonderful big scene is worth the price of a ticket alone — and we will happily anticipate further encounters with Sammie Joe Kinnett, who has appeared in Colorado Springs and in the very physical “39 Steps” at Lone Tree.
This well-written farce from the '80s seems to have ongoing popularity, as it speaks to kindness as well as offering a truly top opportunity for physical comedy.
Appropriate for older kids, but not the really little set, this would make a fun family outing with some serious stuff to talk about afterwards. And an opportunity for all to see what really polished theater can look like. Especially the goofy parts—those take special skill!
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