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You’ll laugh ‘til it hurts:
Canyon Moon’s The NERD

by Gaylin Wyllford

Have you ever been set up for a blind date by a friend? And as the day approaches, you find you’ve built up certain expectations about the person you’ll meet? You think to yourself, “Well this must be a special person or my friend would never have set me up with him/her. We must be a good match.”

And then have you blithely gone ahead with the date only to find all your expectations were disastrously wrong?

If you can relate, then you’ll have a pretty good idea about what to expect from Canyon Moon Theatre Company’ s upcoming production of The Nerd, opening April 18 at their new theatre in the Old Marketplace.

In The Nerd, Willum Cubbert is a semi-successful architect in Terre Haute, Indiana. He has a good job, loyal friends and a caring girlfriend. In short, he’s a nice guy. No, Willum doesn’t get set up on a blind date - hey, it was just an analogy - but a man saved his life in Vietnam and he is about to meet that man for the first time.

And what a meeting it is.

Benny Hill. Jerry Lewis. The Nerd?  Judge for yourself.  You’ll smile so much it hurts as you wade through the carnage of comedy served up by this conglomeration of characters.

A stellar cast is headed up by Ben Brittain, of Phoenix, who plays Willum Cubbert. Brittain has most recently been seen as Brodie in The Real Thing, and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, at Actor’s Theatre of Phoenix.

Also from Phoenix, veteran stage actor Richard Glover portrays no-nonsense businessman Warnock Waldgrave, as humorless and unimaginative a straight man for the plot’s shenanigans as one could possibly hope for. Glover works frequently with Phoenix Theatre, The Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock. He’ll bring such shoot-from-the-hip dourness to his characterization that the audience is bound to roar at all that befalls him - and oh, the things that befall him.

Gerard Maguire, recently seen in CMTC’s production of Side By Side By Sondheim, deftly inhabits the wry character of Axel Hammond, local drama critic and colorful friend to Willum. In addition to his important plot duties, the cynical Axel gleefully tosses priceless quips and epithets around like so many hackneyed reviewers’ headlines.

Recent Sedona arrival, Jennifer Jane, plays the role of Tansy McGinnis, Willum’s soon-to-be-ex girlfriend. McGinnis landed a job in Washington, D.C., as a TV weather girl and is eager to pursue her big break, even if it means breaking Willum’s heart - or is she? Can she leave him when his life is being turned upside-down by the nerd’s outrageous antics? Will love win out?

Performer and writer Dev Ross takes on the role of Waldgrave’s demure wife, Clelia, and has one of the funniest opening lines you’ll ever hear. Ross is an accomplished writer, who was awarded an Emmy for her work with Disney, as well as three Emmy-nominations for writing and acting in the acclaimed PBS children’s series “TNRC Presents.”

Young Dillon Zrike, who is sure to rend laughs from the audience when he meets his match in The Nerd, plays the Waldgraves’ incorrigible son Thor.

And what can be said about the title role? Rick Steadman is a nerd’s nerd, the creme de la creme of misfits. His arrival turns Willum’s rather humdrum life into a nightmarish sitcom parody of Sartre’s No Exit. CMTC veteran Ben Gorman portrays Rick. Gorman was last seen with a juice glass on top of his head in CMTC’s production of The Foreigner, also penned by Larry Shue.

After a stint in southeastern Minnesota playing several roles in a production of Twelfth Night and Moon for the Misbegotten, Gorman has returned to Sedona to help launch Canyon Moon’s new theatre.

Director of last year’s hit CMTC production of The Foreigner, Dan Schay brings to bear his exhaustive theatre background for this production. Schay has a national reputation based on his work with regional theatres across the country. He also knew Larry Shue personally and claims, with absolute candor, “my generation lost its Neil Simon when Larry died.”

Come enjoy a professional-quality regional theatre production and be reminded of what it feels like to have your face ache with laughter.

Make sure to buy purchase your tickets early as many performances of Side by Side by Sondheim sold out.

The Nerd previews April 17, opens April 18 and plays Wednesday - Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through May 12. The theatre is located in the Old Marketplace plaza at 1370 West Hwy. 89A in West Sedona.

Tickets are $12 for Wednesday performances, $17 otherwise. Tickets for full-time students and children 12 and under are $10 for any performance.

Call (928) 282-6212 for reservations. Make sure to tour CMTC’s Web site at Canyon Moon Theatre Company is a nonprofit organization.

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