Laughing at "The Nerd’
DILLON – When director Chris Alleman says “The Nerd” is the funniest show he’s ever read, he’s not exaggerating.
The Lake Dillon Theatre’s season opener, “The Nerd,” is hilarious, and it’s filled with solid actors.
Joshua Blanchard shines in every Lake Dillon Theatre production he’s in, and his performance in “The Nerd” is no different.
This time, he plays the nerd. His strong vocals have diminished to annoying (but still endearing) squeaks, and his comfortable, playful demeanor on stage has transformed into painful antics.
A measurement of a good actor is the ability to conceal one’s everyday demeanor within a character, and Blanchard achieves this – he’s hard to recognize under his runny-nosed, slick-haired and pants-up-to-his-chest facade.
The show begins on Willum Cubber’s (actor Lee Sandblom) birthday. Willum is a down-to-earth architect who passively coasts through life. His closest friends, Axel (Matt Renoux) and Tansy (Deborah Shansky) celebrate the day with him, but there’s tension – Tansy and Willum have a little romance going, but Tansy plans to move to Washington, D.C., leaving Willum alone in Terre Haute, Ind.
Yet any tension between the two lovers pales in comparison to the uproar the nerd causes when he visits Willum.
Sandblom’s portrayal of an average Joe upset by an outrageously oblivious nerd is convincing, and his struggle to deal with his new housemate becomes increasingly desperate and hysterical as the show continues. When he finally lets loose, all of Sandblom’s work to play the straight man pays off.
Renoux’s low-key, sarcastic remarks contrast the nerd’s innocent, high-strung actions brilliantly. When watching “The Nerd,” be sure to glance at Renoux every so often – especially when he has a bag over his head.
Shansky balances her character nicely – she tries to be sweet to neurotic characters while having her own opinions about them. Her most energetic performance emerges in the second half, when she really lets loose.
The Ketzenbargers elicit full-belly laughs from the audience with their portrayal of quirky characters. Gary Ketzenbarger’s loud outbursts directly oppose his tolerant actions of the nerd’s outrageous ideas.
Kelly Ketzenbarger gives just enough energy to her demure character – she doesn’t overdramatize the compulsive need to break dishes, which makes it all the more hysterical. And, her post-dish-breaking glow (which Shansky eventually shares beautifully) made me want to run up and break a dish with her.
Gary and Kelly Ketzenbarger’s 10-year-old daughter, Gabby Ketzenbarger, makes her stage debut in screamingly solid style.
The show’s humor ranges from quick one-liners to more thoughtful wit, with physical humor thrown in for good measure.
The outrageous comedy moves along at a comfortable pace and offers audiences a chance to forget their cares and delve into a world of lunacy for a couple of hours.
Not only does it produce plenty of laughs, but it also has a surprise ending, making the production even more satisfying.
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