P&W delights campus with performance of “The Nerd”

Throughout one’s life, one suffers through a variety of hardships and faces many obstacles. However, there is one adversity that a person hopes to never face: the horrible roommate. The Nerd, written by Larry Shue, deals with this problem in a humorously cringeworthy manner that, if you live in a single, will have you thanking the room-draw gods.

Powder and Wig put on their rendition of The Nerd on Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12 in Strider Theater. Zach Schutzman ’16 directed the twoact show, which contained a small cast of seven students. Dylan Shaw ’19 played the protagonist, Willum Cubbert. Cubbert is a young architect who is the landlord of Tansy McGinnis (Christine Francis ’16) and Axel Hammond (Nick McElroy ’18). Willum and Tansy are also very much attracted to each other, and Willum has been trying to court Tansy previous to the play’s beginning.

The play takes place in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1979, and the show commences with Willum planning to throw a house party for his client, Warnock Waldgrave (played by Jay Huskins ’19), who came with his wife, Clelia Waldgrave (Charlotte Purcell ’19) and young daughter, Thora (Katie Monteleone ’18). During the house party, Willum gets a surprise visit from Rick Steadman (played by John Baker ’19), who saved his life in the Vietnam War. With Rick comes chaos, as Rick is extremely socially awkward and does not have any manners whatsoever. Willum, however, feels as if he owes Rick his life; thus, he feels he must be patient with his houseguest and accept him for who he is.

Purcell and Huskins stole the first act with their knack for comedic timing and unique and comic accents. Their chemistry as both a couple and as parents of a young, troublesome daughter was quite believable and their antics kept the audience laughing throughout Act One. “I had a blast working with such talented people. The actors, the crew, the director… everybody involved was working to their full potential. This made it a really rewarding experience, and I’m so proud to say I’m a part of Powder and Wig,” Purcell said. Huskins added, “I’ve never been in a play where I felt so comfortable playing. Zach gave us a lot of freedom to try weird things and take comedic opportunities where we found them. So when those choices worked, from the various voices to the eyepatch and Charlotte’s hilarious hand-holding bit, they felt right, and I got more confident making the second-by-second reactions and nuances. Honestly, it was an amazing time working with this perfect cast and incredible crew.”

McElroy was also an asset to the cast, bringing a suave and cocky air to the character that offset the bumbling, unassuming persona of Shaw’s character. While the relationship between McElroy, Shaw, and Francis’ characters was unclear, especially at the beginning of the show, each individual actor created and performed strong choices for their characters that kept the audience entertained. Schutzman’s effort to create a strong and intriguing dynamic between the small cast was evident, as the scenes in which the cast was all together were the strongest.

Schutzman said, “Directing The Nerd was an awesome experience. I was constantly impressed by the dedication and talent of the whole cast and crew, and in the end we produced a show that we were all proud of.”

The strongest performance of the show, however, was Baker, as his character is the title of the show. Baker’s character is multi-dimensional, as we find out at the end of the play that “Rick” the nerd and horrible houseguest is an actor named Kemp who Axel hired in order to help Willum prioritize his life and “court Tansy till she cracks.” Thus, Baker faced an extreme challenge of playing an actor within an actor; in other words, two different characters. Baker said, “The Nerd was a fascinating experience. I enjoyed the rare privilege of playing a character who is himself an actor, quite an unusual opportunity. This was the most wildly hilarious comedy I have worked on and one of the most extraordinarily creative ensemble and production teams I have ever had the good fortune to work with.”

Shaw is grateful to have had the experience to play the protagonist in this difficult, comedic show: “Seeing everyone put so many hours and so much effort into this performance has been such an wonderful time. I’m incredibly proud of how well everyone did, and I look forward to being involved in future Powder & Wig productions.”

Powder and Wig’s next event will be the Vagina Monologues on Friday, February 19 in Page Commons and on Saturday, February 20 at Studio 93 on Main Street in Waterville. Next to Normal, Powder and Wig’s musical, will take place in Page Commons on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5.