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Milwaukee Repertory Theater Newsletter


CONTACT: Cindy Moran, Public Relations Director, 414-224-1761

April 4, 2007

Directed by James Pickering

Stiemke Theater

Previews: April 13 & 14, 2007 Opens: April 15, 2007 Closes: May 27, 2007

One of Milwaukee Rep’s bestselling plays of all time returns in a brand-new production. This extraordinarily inventive, side-splitting comedy centers on the hilarious dilemma of Willum Cubbert, a young architect, who is visited by Rick Steadman — a man he's never met but who saved Willum’s life in Vietnam — who turns out to be an incredibly inept "nerd" who outstays his welcome with a vengeance. As Rick stays on and on, his continued presence leads to one uproarious incident after another. Tickets can be purchased in person at The Rep Ticket Office at 108 East Wells Street, or by telephone at 414-224-9490. Tickets can also be purchased online 24/7 at milwaukeerep.com. This production is proudly sponsored by Anne and Fred Stratton to commemorate Larry Shue, to honor Jim Pickering, the original “Nerd,” and to offer Milwaukee audiences the gift of Great Theater into the spring and summer!

Set in small town Terre Haute, Indiana, THE NERD opens with the anticlimactic celebration of Willum’s 34th birthday. As Willum soon learns through his habitual checking of messages on his answering machine, Rick Steadman, who Willum can’t immediately remember, plans on stopping by for a visit. Willum recalls the name and excitedly retells the story to his friends, Axel and Tansy, of this “good Samaritan” from Vietnam to whom he owes his life. Due to unusual circumstances, the two have never actually met face to face, but keep in touch with infrequent and indirect correspondences. The evening soon turns from uneventful to hilariously awkward when Willum’s boss, Waldgrave, and the Waldgrave family, including a nervous wreck of a wife and a monstrous child, and Rick, dressed as a Creature from the Black Lagoon, come together. The guests immediately recognize Rick’s social ineptness and become irritated. Willum initially defends Rick, claiming it is because of Rick that he is alive today. However, as the week progresses, Willum loses his patience for his perpetual house guest and consequently starts to lose focus on his work. Desperate to rid himself of Rick without hurting his feelings, Willum turns to Axel for help. The two set up an elaborate plan to make Rick run for the hills. Paradoxically, the insanity of the situation knocks sense into Willum who finally realizes what he really wants from his life and career.

Playwright Larry Shue was born in 1946 in New Orleans where his father taught Drama at Tulane University. Due to the extensive travel involved in being a college professor, the Shue family made several moves and finally ended up in the Midwest. Graduating in 1968 from the Theater Arts program at Illinois Wesleyan University, Shue ventured into many areas of theater such as acting, directing, stage history and design. In 1969, he served in the entertainment division of the Army during the Vietnam War. In 1977, Shue was invited to act for Milwaukee Repertory Theater Company and soon became playwright-in-residence. In 1979, Shue wrote his first play called GRANDMA DUCK IS DEAD. The play was a success and has been performed from New York to Dallas and produced on the National Public Radio series Earplay. It was here at The Rep that Shue wrote THE NERD in 1981 and THE FOREIGNER in 1983. THE NERD enjoyed a successful run on Broadway and the West End in London. THE FOREIGNER had much achievement Off-Broadway as well. These two plays earned Shue two Obies and two New York Drama Critics Awards. Shue’s promising career was cut short at age 39 when he was killed in the crash of a commuter plane on September 23, 1985.

In a Prologue interview with Larry Shue during the 1980/81 production of THE NERD, Shue commented on who he modeled the nerd after: “He’s all the really awful people in my life. One of the things I’ve always had to wrestle with is that you’re supposed to be nice, but if you’re nice to these people they become your friends for life. That’s my theme in the play. Not Where Is Man Headed or Is War Justifiable, but What Do You Do with Nerds?”

Director James Pickering, who played the role of Rick Steadman in the first production in 1981, worked side by side with Larry Shue. Mr. Pickering made his directorial debut while directing THE NERD for Milwaukee Rep in 1996. Mr. Pickering is in his 33rd season as a leading member of The Rep’s Resident Acting Company. Many of his most memorable roles have occurred in the Stiemke Theater, notably Tobias in A DELICATE BALANCE, Richard Nixon in NIXON’S NIXON, Adolph Eichmann in THE WHITE CROW, Mr Rice in MOLLY SWEENEY, Jerry in BETRAYAL (opposite his wife, Rose), The Historical Event in HOW I GOT THAT STORY, Van Helsing in Dracula and Finbar in THE WEIR. Last season he was seen on the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater stage as the disgruntled Vernon Volker in LAUGHING STOCK and the evil Professor James Moriarty in SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE. This season in the Quadracci Powerhouse he has appeared as Hugh in TRANSLATIONS and as Mr. Voysey in THE VOYSEY INHERITANCE.

Mr. Pickering, in talking about preparing for THE NERD, said, “So now we’re perusing the big sheets of paper with elevations and detail drawings, making sure there’s enough room offstage for pot-and-pan hitting, hot tar boiling and warm water-and-cottage-cheese hurling, chomping at the bit to get rehearsals started. And reminding ourselves of what we learned all those years ago working on this play. . . . The secret to constructing good comedy, I think. Lightness of heart – seriousness of purpose.”

Included in the cast for THE NERD are Resident Acting Company Members Laura Gordon (Clelia Waldgrave); Torrey Hanson (Axel Hammond); Gerard Neugent (Rick Steadman); and Brian Vaughn (Willum Cubbert).

In addition, joining the cast are Guest Actors Jonathan Blair (Thor); Avi W. Borouchoff (Thor understudy); Melinda Pfundstein (Tansy McGinnis) and Chris Tarjan (Warnock Waldgrave).

(To learn more about our Resident Acting Company, Guest Actors or our Intern Company, please visit milwaukeerep.com).

The production/design team for THE NERD includes Geoffrey M. Curley (Scenic Designer); Amy Horst (Costume Designer); Noele Stollmack (Lighting Designer); Tony Puglielli(Sound Designer); Briana J. Fahey (Stage Manager), Becca Lindsay (Stage Management Apprentice) and Paula Bennett (Assistant Director).

Tickets to THE NERD are $22.50 and $32.50 on weekdays and Sundays and $32.50 and $42.50 on Fridays and Saturdays. Students and senior citizens may purchase half-price RUSH TICKETS with proper identification 60 minutes before curtain time for all Stiemke Theater performances at The Rep Ticket Office. For more information or to charge tickets, call 414-224-9490. Tickets can be purchased online 24/7 at milwaukeerep.com. For group sales of 20 or more, call The Rep Ticket Office at 414-224-9490.

Special Events for THE NERD 

  • Note: There are no Rep In Depths or Talkbacks for THE NERD.

For more information about The Rep’s Access Services, please contact The Rep’s Ticket Office at 414-224-9490.

Directed by James Pickering


THEATER: Stiemke Theater

DATES: April 13, 2007 – May 27, 2007

DESCRIPTION: One of the funniest plays ever written, this extraordinarily inventive, side-splitting comedy centers on the hilarious dilemma of Willum Cubbert, a young architect, who is visited by Rick Steadman – a man he's never met but who saved Willum’s life in Vietnam – who turns out to be an incredibly inept "nerd" who outstays his welcome with a vengeance. As Rick stays on and on, his continued presence leads to one uproarious incident after another.

Friday 4/13/07 - 8:00 p.m. - Preview
Saturday 4/14/07 - 8:30 p.m. - Preview
Sunday 4/15/07 - 7:00 p.m. - Opening

Tuesday 4/17/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 4/18/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 4/19/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 4/20/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 4/21/07 - 4:30/8:30 p.m.
Sunday 4/22/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m.

Tuesday 4/24/07 - 6:30 p.m. - Early Bird
Wednesday 4/25/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 4/26/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 4/27/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 4/28/07 - 4:30/8:30 p.m.
Sunday 4/29/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m.

Tuesday 5/1/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 5/2/07 - 1:30/7:30 p.m.
Thursday 5/3/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 5/4/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 5/5/07 - 4:30/8:30 p.m.
Sunday 5/6/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m.

Tuesday 5/8/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 5/9/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 5/10/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 5/11/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 5/12/07 - 4:30/8:30 p.m.
Sunday 5/13/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m.

Tuesday 5/15/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 5/16/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 5/17/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 5/18/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 5/19/07 - 4:30/8:00 p.m.
Sunday 5/20/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m.

Tuesday 5/22/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday 5/23/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday 5/24/07 - 7:30 p.m.
Friday 5/25/07 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 5/26/07 - 4:30/8:30 p.m.
Sunday 5/27/07 - 2:00/7:00 p.m. 7:00 - Close

108 East Wells Street in Milwaukee’s Downtown Theater District

WEEKDAY/SUNDAY: $22.50 & $32.50
FRIDAY/SATURDAY: $32.50 & $42.50

TICKETS/INFORMATION: 414-224-9490 or buy tickets online at milwaukeerep.com

Phone Hours: 12 pm – 6 pm
Window Hours: 12 p.m. – until Quadracci Powerhouse curtain time


The Rep Ticket Office: 414-224-9490

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