TownSquare Players’ veteran members bring ‘Nerd’ to Opera House stage

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If TownSquare Players ever named an all-star cast, the six characters making up “The Nerd” likely would be it.

The comedy opens at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 and runs through Nov. 24 at the Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren St. It features many of the most veteran members of McHenry County’s oldest active community theater group.

“This show doesn’t have a large cast, but the cast members are all very memorable,” said Paul Lockwood, TownSquare Players’ publicity chair and “Warnock Waldgrave” in the show. 

Lockwood has appeared in numerous past productions alongside several of his cast members, all of whom have been in previous Opera House comedies.

“We’re all familiar with how to make people laugh and how to create memorable characters,” Lockwood said.

Written by Larry Shue and performed for the first time at the Opera House, “The Nerd” is set in Terre Haute, Ind., in the late ’70s and tells the story of Willum Cubbert, a Vietnam veteran who has an established career as an architect. Everything goes off the rails while he’s hosting a dinner party for his boss.

The Nerd, or Rick Steadman, played by Jim Pierce, saved Willum’s life during the war. The two had never met, but kept in touch through mail. He shows up at the party.

Although he’s rather annoying, the characters are trying to be nice to him because he saved Willum’s life. 

“To what degree are you willing to tolerate someone who drives you crazy? It’s a very fun show and a very funny show, and yet they’re very real characters,” said Lockwood, whose character is Willum’s boss on a new hotel design. 

“People will be able to see themselves in the characters and in our reactions to what’s going on.”

The show is directed by Roger Zawacki and produced by Carrie MacDonald.

Other actors include Tim Vance as Willum; Karen Jorgensen as Tansy McGinnis, Willum’s girlfriend; Jeff Cook as Axel Hammond, a drama critic and Willum’s friend; Odette Little as Clelia Waldgrave, Warnock’s wife; and Lars Burke as Thor Waldgrave, son of Warnock and Clelia and a “major brat.”

Throughout the night, “bizarre” things occur, with the characters ending up with bags on their heads or lunging at one another, Lockwood said. 

The ticket price for students has been lowered to $13 to make the show appealing as a family night out. Adult tickets cost $23, while seniors pay $20. 

“There are comedies that are going to make you chuckle,” Lockwood said. “There are witty comedies, and then there are comedies that are just going to make you laugh, and this is one of them. They will be laughing and laughing loudly. It is that funny.”

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