St. Vincent opens summer season with return of 'The Nerd'
By Cynthia Bombach Helzel
Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 8:22 p.m.
He's every host's worst nightmare: the awkward, ill-mannered guest who decides to move in — indefinitely. This potentially disastrous scenario plays out with hilarious results in “The Nerd,” the farce that opens the new season at St. Vincent Summer Theatre in Latrobe.
The play opens with mild-mannered architect Willum Cubbert struggling to deal with frustration in his love life and career. The girl he loves is about to move away, and he is designing a hotel for a difficult client. As if he needs more trouble, his life is turned upside down with the arrival of Rick Steadman, the man who saved his life in Vietnam 10 years earlier but whom he has never actually met. Steadman, the “Nerd” of the title, decides to stay with Willum for the foreseeable future and immediately begins to make his host's life miserable. Now, Willum has a new challenge: He must find the resolve to deal with Steadman along with the other problems in his life.
Director Colleen Reilly says that “The Nerd” is one of the theater's most-requested shows. When she first saw the play, she says, she was “captivated by the way it unfolded. It's a beautifully constructed show, with a beautifully set up and executed plot.”
The title role is played by Kevin Daniel O'Leary. “He's a versatile actor,” Reilly says. “He has a real fearlessness and a great imagination.”
Those qualities are put to good use as O'Leary portrays a character who is over-the-top annoying.
“He is completely oblivious to the fact that he's obnoxious and is making everyone uncomfortable, all the time,” O'Leary says. “He decides he's going to move in without really asking. He has a tambourine that he likes to play — a lot. He sings out loud late at night.”
If Willum manages to form a backbone and get rid of Rick, he just may win the love of Tansy, the woman with whom he shares a mutual but unfulfilled attraction. Tansy, played by Karen Baum, plans to leave their shared apartment and move to Washington, D.C., to pursue her goal of becoming a weather reporter. Baum describes her character as “a go-getter. She's sweet and torn between a career and love, and I understand her,” she says.
Rounding out the small cast are Alex Watson, who plays the beleaguered Willum; Tony Bingham as Willum's friend Axel; and Philip Winters, Renata Marino and Anthony Marino Jr. as Willum's clients, the Waldgrave family.
“The Nerd” is appropriate for audiences of all ages. “The humor is very accessible,” Reilly says. “It is one of those shows that people remember.”
After each evening performance other than the Thursday preview, the theater will offer its popular cabaret. The cabaret features live musical entertainment, drinks, hot dogs and popcorn.
Seats for all but the Thursday preview performance must be reserved in advance by calling the theater box office or making reservations online at www.svst.org.
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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