The 50th “Golden” anniversary of Highland Summer Theatre is now halfway through with the closing of Seussical. However, with The Nerd set to open Thursday and Footloose set to open Thursday, July 9, there is still much to be done.
The Nerd is a play written by Larry Shue. This play, set in Indiana during late 1979, is about a young architect and how an unexpected visitor shakes up his life. Willum Cubbert (the architect) is having a house party with his friends Axel and Tansy when Rick Steadman shows up unannounced. Rick saved Willum’s life in Vietnam and even though the two have never met they have exchanged letters wherein Willum has told Rick he could come to him for help at anytime. Rick decides to move in and his nerdy, awkward, and clumsy behavior causes problems for Willum’s professional life during a dinner party he is holding with a client.
Steven Labine, a recent BFA Musical Theatre graduate, is having a good time playing the title role. “Willum is a fun character to play. Everyone knows somebody like him. He’s a nice guy but just not all that interesting. That’s where his charm is, he’s likably bland. But throughout the show he grows and that is a great experience for an actor.”
History repeats itself, as The Nerd will be the third installment of the 50th “Golden” anniversary Highland Summer Theatre season, the exact same slot it was produced in for the 2001 season. Other notable shows that took place in this slot include: Boeing Boeing (2014), The Seven Year Itch (2006), and Anything Goes (1975). The Nerd is sponsored by the Minnesota State Mankato TRIO Programs and will run from June 22 to 25 in the Andreas Theatre.
The fourth and final show of the “Golden” anniversary season will be Footloose. Written by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie with music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Pitchford, Footloose the musical is based on the 1984 movie that shares the same name. Ren McCormack is a regular city teenager who enjoys going out dancing in Chicago after a long day of work. His life is flipped upside down when he and his mother have to relocate from the big city to the small town of Bomont. When he gets to Bomont he soon learns that it is a very religious town and they have a ban on dancing. Determined to change the adult’s opinions, he teams up with Willard Hewitt and Ariel Moore (the minister’s daughter) and together they try to convince the town council that dancing isn’t a bad thing.
“Footloose takes place in a very specific time and place, and yet, it still resonates right now,” Paul Hustoles, Highland artistic director said. “Just think about the world as it exists now and the people who don’t want to be on the cutting edge of social norms and those who want to bring society kicking and dragging into a new world. Footloose demonstrates that beautifully.”
Footloose is co-sponsored by the Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic, Farrish Johnson Law Office, and an anonymous donor. The show was last produced as the main stage opener in the fall of 2002. Footloose will be the closing show of the 50th “Golden” anniversary Highland Summer Theatre season. Previous season closing shows include: Hairspray (2014), The Sound of Music (1996 & 2012) and Kiss Me, Kate (1971). Footloose will run July 7 to 9 and 13 to 16 in the Ted Paul Theatre.
Tickets for Footloose are $22 regular or $19 discounted for seniors ages 65 and over and children ages 16 and under. Tickets for The Nerd are $16 regular and $14 discounted. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
Call the Box Office from 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays at 389-6661 or the MNSU Department of Theatre and Dance main office at 389-2118 for more information. Or visit MSUTheatre.com.