By Melanie Nelson, Independent Reviewer
Decheine embodies the tobacco-chewing racist redneck Owen and, as always, demands our full attention while on stage in St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre’s production of “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue at the Best Western Hudson House Inn this summer.
As the story unfolds Staff Sergeant Froggy LeSueur, played by Joe Keith (the icing on the cake of the “Don’t Hug Me” shows from past seasons), brings his boring English friend Charlie with him to Georgia for a three day get-away. When Froggy has to depart for Army training, he leaves Charlie in the very capable hands of Betty Meeks, the owner and operator of the little fishing lodge. Betty is tickled pink to have a foreign visitor, and Charlie wants nothing to do with anyone, hence Froggy’s departing plan to tell Betty that her guest doesn’t speak English.
This little white lie proves wonders for the spirit of Betty, for the love life of Miss Catherine, and brings wealth to the extremely insecure, and mentally instable, young Ellard. While Charlie, played very well by Daniel Eckman-Thomas, is at the root of the storyline, it’s the combination of Charlie and Ellard that steal the show. Jonathan Hause playes Ellard, and he does it exquisitely. Charlie’s first English lesson from Ellard at the kitchen table was directed and played to absolute perfection. This scene alone is well worth the price of admission.
Charlie begins mirroring Ellard’s actions, and they have a wonderful romp through the delicious exercise. When Ellard says “For-rk” and Charlie says “Fork,” Ellard corrects him until he gets in two syllables, the audience on opening night responded with a chorus of laughter.
Soon Betty enters and she only adds to the magic of the moment. Betty, played by actor Elizabeth Christine Tanner, also has a spot-on performance. She knows how to take a supporting part and make you remember her days after the performance.
The cast is rounded out by the onstage couple, and real-life couple, of Eric Douglas as Rev. David and Kelsey Anderson as Catherine.
The set is beautiful, a very nice fishing cabin feel. And the pre and intermission music, as always, are a great compliment to the evening. Sound design is one of director James A. Zimmerman’s best attributes.
And dinner…this is DINNER theatre after all…was very nice. The warm selection of rolls with salad started off our meal. At my table we had a variety of entrees. I had the pork with a very good sauce. The steak I sampled off my neighbor’s plate was good, correctly at medium, and the walleye was a plate full.
All in all, the only thing that was lacking in my evening was my usual favorite chocolate dessert at St. Croix Off Broadway. The peach cobbler and bread pudding were nice, especially since the play is set in Georgia, but boy, a piece of 7-layer chocolate would have been good.
Reservations can be made at 715.386.2394 ext. 333 or on-line at www.stcroixoffbroadway.com. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays until August 14 with a special noon lunch matinee also on Saturday July 10. There are no shows July 2 and 3. The dinner theatre is located at the Best Western Hudson House Inn in Hudson, WI.
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St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre
1616 Crest View Drive, Hudson, WI 54016 Box Office: (715)386.2394 ext. 332
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