Picking on the Nerd

Nick Anschuetz ’08 popped open a bottle of Jack Daniels and poured himself a glass as he said, “Jack! Jack Daniels! Where the hell you been, babe? Have you had anything to eat? Well, try some of my stomach lining!” As he downed the shot, not a single faculty member stood up to reprimand him. Sound a bit unrealistic? This is a scene from “The Nerd,” a play by Larry Shue which premiered in Steinbach Theatre last weekend. “The Nerd,” directed by Instructor in Theatre, Mark Efinger, is the culmination of the Theatre 520 class’ work this term. And the “whiskey” Nick was drinking? No worries, just some watered-down Coke. “The Nerd” focuses on the life of Willum Cubbert, an architect played by Eli Grober ’09. Willum has trouble designing a hotel for his latest client, Warnock Waldgrave, played by Evan DelGaudio ’08. Simultaneously, Willum’s romantic life is also in danger. His love interest, Tansy McGinnis, played by Ellie Shepley ’08, plans to move away to take a weathergirl job in Washington D.C. Their mutual friend, Axel Hammond, played by Anschuetz, conspires with Rick Steadman, played by David Holliday ’08, who “saved” Willum’s life in Vietnam. The pair attempt to bring Tansy and Willum together and also work to help Willum with his building designs. The cast is rounded out by Blaine Johnson ’08 and Scott Dzialo ’09, who play Waldgrave’s wife Celia and young son Thor, respectively. The show required much more work and effort than a typical play. The cast and crew of the production treated the show as a 5th or 6th course, so they have been grinding out rehearsals during 6th periods and Wednesday nights from 6-9:30 all term. With so much to keep in order, all of the organization was left to stage manager Lilli Stein ’07. Of the experience Stein said, “Learning to be a stage manager was something all together new and strange to me, and it was challenging to try to exceed expectations while sweeping up the questions and problems of my colleagues.” Shepley said, “We had to plot out what our objective was in every scene. We used beat sheets to figure out what we are trying to get from the other person in the scene during each moment of the play.” The actors also used various other methods to get into character. In the play, Shepley’s character wants to become a weathergirl, so Shepley spoke with a newscaster about her experiences to get into character. The play also required a complicated set. The Theatre Department Chair, Bruce Bacon, was in charge of scenic design for the play. Together with Johnson and DelGaudio, Mr. Bacon built the set with input from director Efinger. As well built as the set was, a new molding for the top step of the staircase broke during one of the scenes, in which Thor, played by Scott Dzialo ’09, rambunctiously jumped around and rolled down the steps. Dzialo said, “I didn’t even know I’d broken the step until I got backstage. But it came out well because that’s something my character would probably do – break something.” The play also presented a challenging set of props. Stage manager Stein said, “You look at the list [of props] and gawk. Its like five pages long and calls for things like cottage cheese, Cornish hens, devilled eggs, a T-square, watercolor renderings, and a monster costume – the props table is covered with junk.” The props girl, Jean Fang ’09, said, “Finding the props was stressful. I got them from all over. The bad part is when the audience steals the 610 business cards, which I spent a period cutting. And all the tech people have to run around with mops and clean up the cottage cheese off of the furniture. Everything was real.” The hard work of the cast and crew on the props, the set, and the actual acting helped to create a hilarious play that is worth seeing. If you have not seen it yet, don’t miss the last performance, this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Steinbach Theatre.