“The Nerd” success sets stage for future theater productions

Ryan Hall

State University Theatre kicked off the 2012-2013 season last week with the laugh-packed comedy “The Nerd” by Larry Shue. The varied cast of characters blended together in seamless believability to provide the audience with a genuinely hilarious time. More importantly, “The Nerd” proved SUT has a whole year’s worth of quality shows and talent ahead.

The story centers on stressed architect Willum Cubbert (Zach Swanson) as he attempts to juggle his job, love life and an unwelcome arrival from one very annoying character. Friends Tansy McGinnis (Sadie Jensen) and Axel Hammond (Jacob Hofer) seek to ease Willum’s woes as he struggles to find a way out of his slump. Not making matters any easier is Willum’s employer Warnock Waldgrave (Blake Farber) who, along with his wife Clelia Waldgrave (Kate Kanne) and son Thor Waldgrave (Oscar Kavanagh), continually adds to Willum’s stress. When it seems like life can’t get any worse for Willum, Rick Steadman (Eric Mette) enters the tale to prove it certainly can.

Marketed as a comedy, “The Nerd” rarely left the audience silent. Every joke and funny phrase linked together to ensure a constant flow of laughter.

“It was the funniest play I have ever seen,” said James Nordstrom, one of the attendees.

The superb comedic timing brought to the stage by each and every member of the cast created atmosphere and humor. Despite the well-written script, some of the funniest moments came from the physical reactions of the actors and actresses as they responded to the events around them.

Believability can often define the success of a play, and each member of “The Nerd” cast had clearly mastered his or her character. The audience felt for Willum and Tansy as they dealt with the increasingly infuriating nerd Rick. They laughed at Axel’s wisecracks and Clelia’s inability to leave a good piece of china intact. As a spectator, the believability of those characters simply added to the already delightful experience.

Behind the main focal point of the cast lay the truly immersive aspects of a theatre production. The lights, sound, props, costumes and sets were what provided the realness of a production like “The Nerd”. Willum’s living room stayed true to the 1979 setting with a set that included a stereotypical seventies vibe. The couches plush with odd floral patterns, the wallpaper adorned with yellow stripes and the inclusion of a record player kept the audience in the proper time frame. Props like an electric cigarette, which actor Jacob Hofer admitted merely provided “a breath of nicotine-free, minty steam,” allowed actual smoke to escape the lips of the actors. Every piece of music and dress mirrored the appropriate time period. Lighting kept the focal point on those speaking, yet still left the frequently comical actions of sideline characters in sight. All aspects of the production that are often seen, but not always actively thought of by the audience, helped make “The Nerd” a highly immersive experience.

Assuming “The Nerd” is the example for what is to come this year, SDSU is in for an impressive year of theatre. The participants of SUT have outdone themselves, and I highly encourage each student to support their efforts by attending future productions. Next on the schedule is “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” which begins Nov. 28.