Comedy promises audience will laugh themselves silly

The fall production for the Dailey Theatre this year is "The Nerd," a play centered around the antics of a stereotypical nerd. In dress rehearsal for "The Nerd," junior S. Baker Eatmon, playing the title character, shows up for a non-existent Halloween Party. The play is being directed by alumnus Sean Dillon ('87). / photo by Rhidian Maehl
The fall production for the Dailey Theatre this year is “The Nerd,” a play centered around the antics of a stereotypical nerd. In dress rehearsal for “The Nerd,” junior S. Baker Eatmon, playing the title character, shows up for a non-existent Halloween Party. The play is being directed by alumnus Sean Dillon (’87). / photo by Rhidian Maehl

by Enedina Perez
Staff Writer

“A series of ‘ha-has’ followed by an ‘a-ha,'” is a concept that will be evident to those who go see “The Nerd,” a play presented by the University of La Verne’s Department of Theatre Arts, which began yesterday and continues through Nov. 9, and will run again Nov. 14-16 in Dailey Theatre at 7:30 p.m., according to director Sean Dillon.

“Fun” was the most frequently used word to describe “The Nerd,” a play written by Larry Shue.

The play is the outrageously funny story of hospitality gone bad.

This production started its process in early October.

According to Dillon, the decision of choosing “The Nerd” involved a lot of thinking.

“We wanted something that audiences would have a lot of fun with,” said Dillon. “The theater here at ULV has the tendency to experiment by doing a lot of different kinds of theater with a lot of different issues that challenge its audiences.

“I would describe the play as fun. The audience is going to laugh themselves silly. The writing is very funny. It’s the kind of script that you laugh out loud reading it and when you finally put it on stage, it’s like nonstop, one thing after another,” said Dillon.

This play not only aims at attracting returning students, who have an idea of what the ULV theater is all about, but it would also aim at seeking additional people, especially those who are new to the school.

“There are 200 seats in here,” said Dillon. “By surrounding the stage and having a good time, everybody’s sort of exchanging it back and forth. Having this great time is something that would really be a great way to kick off the year and hopefully get people to come back to see the next show and the next one too.”

The seven member cast consists of senior Jason Costello (Warnock Waldgrave), junior S. Baker Eatmon (Rick Steadman), senior Erik Johnson (Axel Hammond), sophomore Lisa Manley (Tansy McGinnis), alumnus Michael Martin (Willum Cubbert), 11 year old Danny Schmittler (Thor Waldgrave) and freshman Kelly Young (Clelia Waldgrave).

Some of the cast members also agree with Dillon’s description of the play.

“I think it’s fun,” said Eatmon. “It’s not really different from anything I’ve been in, but it’s something I enjoy more. We use a lot more energy in a piece such as this, at least I do anyway.”

“I haven’t done very much comedy,” said Manley. “Something that I really like about this play is that I get to come to rehearsal and laugh for a couple hours.”

Although “The Nerd” is being seen as a fun and enjoyable play, Dillon says that it has not been a simple play to direct.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve directed something that was as broadly comic as this,” he said. “This is one of the kinds of shows that I love doing. It’s really satisfying, but it’s extremely hard work to direct comedies like this one because the timing has to be very precise. The little tiny moments, that are over like that on stage, have to be worked and reworked and worked again.”

Dillon mentioned that the cast has been very patient with this method.

He also discussed some of the difficulties that he and the cast encountered during the process of this production, like working around seven different schedules to find the perfect time for everybody to rehearse.

According to Dillon, there were times when they had to rehearse without some actors. “Scheduling was a difficulty,” he said. “With the ensemble nature of the piece, we really needed that time together.”

Another problem faced by Dillon was related to the directing process.

“Once we have people here, the difficulties are envisioning what the timing needs to be, and what the precision needs to be,” he said.

In order to figure this out, he has to be the audience and observe everything taking place on stage.

By doing this, Dillon will “hopefully bring the actors to justify and complete an instinctive movement on stage and delivery of lines that also communicate something to an audience.

“I have to be the judge of what’s funny and what’s not, of what’s well timed and what’s not. I also have to take all the great, creative input, all of the solutions and the moments that the actors bring to the stage and find a way of making them all work together so it’s the best show that it can be,” said Dillon.

Dillon also mentioned that the process, of choosing the cast, involved some difficulties.

While he said that everybody who went to try out had great talents, he found the difficult part to be figuring out the different combinations and possibilities that would help him decide what actor was suitable for each character.

“There’s no lack of talent around here,” Dillon said. “People came from all over different departments, majors and interests. It was nice to see the response.”

“The Nerd,” which was written 13 years ago, can almost be called “situation comedy,” said Dillon.

“Shue creates a situation that the characters get themselves into, where outrageous things can happen,” he said. “By the end of this play, the strangest things happen and it all makes sense because Shue has created a situation where not only can it happen, but it must.”

Dillon does not consider the play as having a starring role.

Although some characters may not be focused by the story as much as others, they all have very significant roles.

“It has to be done as an ensemble piece because they all have to be completely in the mix together all the time,” he said.

“It’s the kind of play that they’re going to want someone to nudge next to them, laugh afterwards, talk about it during the intermission and then they’re going to want to come back with their friends,” Dillon said.

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