Steeple Players Theatre, Keaton Theatre open with new shows

Two local theatres are staging two new productions for the month of April. The Foreigner, playing April 11-21 at the Steeple Players Theatre in nearby Hendersonville, is an outrageous comedy about a guy who pretends to be a foreigner unable to speak English just to get a little peace and quiet. Gypsy, playing April 11-27 at the Keeton Theatre, FiftyForward Senior Center in Donelson, is a musical about the famous burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee and her relationship with her domineering mother.

Steeple Theatre’s The Foreigner focuses on Charlie Baker, a proofreader whose wife finds him boring and kicks him out. To recuperate from a bad marriage and get his head together, Charlie and his friend Froggy LeSueur (a British military demolitions expert) vacation at a rustic fishing lodge in rural Georgia. Froggy is training a U.S. Army platoon nearby and will be ‘in and out’ of the lodge. To keep the locals from bothering his shy friend, Froggy tells Betty, the owner of the lodge, that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and neither speaks nor understands English.

So conversations at the lodge carry on around Charlie much as if he weren’t there at all, since it’s assumed he can’t understand them anyway. For example, Catherine Simms informs her fiancé, Rev. David Lee, that he isn’t as sterile as he said he was and that she’s pregnant.

Charlie also overhears a conversation between the county property inspector, Owen Musser, and Rev. David Lee. They’re plotting to condemn the lodge, so Rev. David can buy it at a bargain price—and it turns out the good reverend may have ties to the Ku Klux Klan! Charlie also learns that Rev. David is plotting to swindle Catherine’s half-witted brother, Ellard, out of his half of her massive family inheritance.

Charlie endears himself to almost everyone by being a good listener (much better than they know) as they relate their problems to him. He doesn’t judge, nor does he give advice. So, Ellard tries his hand at teaching Charlie to speak English. Maybe poor Ellard isn’t so stupid after all.

Through a series of plot twists and turns, Charlie saves the day after the Klan appears, torches blazing. But Charlie outwits them. After a series of tricks involving Ellard, a trap door and a croquet mallet, the Klan is vanquished and Rev. David is exposed for the fraud and villain he really is.

This is an incredibly funny play. I acted in a production of The Foreigner several years ago, playing Froggy with Richard Moll (‘Bull’ in TV’s Nightcourt) playing the dishonest county inspector. I highly recommend this comedy.

The Steeple Players Theatre is located in the City Square Shopping Center at 260 West Main Street in Hendersonville, Tenn. Purchase tickets by visiting the Steeple Players website at www.steepleplayers.org or call 615-826-6037.

The Keeton Theatre’s Gypsy focuses on Mama Rose, mother of the famous burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. Mama Rose is played by Ginger Newman (Keeton’s artistic director).

Mama Rose channels her own frustrated dreams of stardom into her youngest daughter, Baby June, a curly

blonde who always eclipses older sister Louise. The story follows Rose as she tirelessly reinvents June to defy the passage of time and even puberty itself in an attempt to have the youngster make it big on Broadway. Meanwhile, though, Rose’s single-minded focus has alienated her long-suffering lover and agent, Herbie.

Mama Rose does manage to see June succeed on Broadway via the slightly ‘lower class’ vaudeville. However, June marries and leaves Rose—who then turns her hope and attention to the elder, less obviously talented Louise. Then suddenly, Louise conquers the burlesque marquees as Gypsy Rose Lee! But having Louise headline as a stripper at Minsky’s Burlesque is not what Mama Rose initially has in mind.

Popular songs from the show include ‘Let Me Entertain You’ and ‘Everything Is Coming Up Roses.’

The Larry Keeton Theatre is a dinner theatre, and dinner is served one hour prior to show time. The menu for this show is meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and salad and carrot cake. You may BYOB at the Larry Keeton Theatre and they provide the wine glasses. Tickets for dinner and show are $28. There is a special show only price of $13 on Thursday evenings. Call 883-8375 for ticket reservations or visit www.thelarrykeetontheatre.org.  The Keeton Theatre is located at the FiftyForward Senior Center for the Arts, 108 Donelson Pike, Nashville, TN 37214.