"The Foreigner," a two-hour comedy that pokes fun at assumptions and what happens when people make them, opens a three-week run today at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
The play will wrap up the Super Summer Theatre season, breaking with a long tradition of staging musicals on the outdoor stage, says director Scott Johnson.
"The challenge of our show not being a musical is we have to make sure we don't lose our audience," says Johnson, who is making a directorial debut of sorts. It's his first time to direct a full-length play. "Usually in a musical, the dance numbers and well-known songs tend to hold people's attention. I think a play where they're just following a story, we need to make sure our energy is high so that we don't lose them."
Not that a musical doesn't present directing challenges, Johnson is quick to add. But he's keenly aware of the issues a cast faces when performing outside.
"You do worry with every play, even in a musical," Johnson says. "You want to sustain the energy throughout. But I think doing it in an outdoor amphitheater presents unique challenges that you have to keep in the back of your mind."
The play, written by Larry Shue, debuted off-Broadway in 1984. It's set during the 1980s and follows the lives of seven people staying at a fishing lodge in rural Georgia.
A shy, socially awkward Englishman, Charlie Baker, is the foreigner. He takes a vacation at the lodge while his wife is in the hospital. He experiences so much trouble when trying to talk to others that his friend resorts to telling people Charlie can't speak English.
This knowledge gives the other guests the freedom to talk openly in front of him, believing that Charlie can't understand what they're saying. He ends up overhearing the secrets, scandals and nefarious plans of the other visitors, one of which is to trick the lodge owner into giving up her home so they can convert it into the headquarters for the KKK.
Through the course of the play, all of the characters learn something about themselves, Johnson notes.
The play is family-friendly, Johnson adds, and the venue provides the perfect backdrop for a picnic. Audience members should bring a blanket or folding chair to sit on (or rent chairs at the amphitheater for $1).
Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the gate, but tickets often sell out so Johnson recommends buying them before the show.
Guests can bring food and drinks, but snacks also will be available at the venue.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.