Georgia Ensemble Theatre recently presented a production of the Larry Shue classic play THE FOREIGNER, as previously reported by BroadwayWorld.com. THE FOREIGNER uses every device in the comedy storehouse to make audiences laugh hysterically. Charlie’s shyness renders him helpless in conversation – so when a friend covers for him by telling the other guests in a rural Georgia mountain lodge that he is an exotic foreigner and speaks no English, Charlie ends up hearing more than he should.
BroadwayWorld got the chance to talk to the show's lead actor, Hugh Adams, about his time playing Charlie in THE FOREIGNER, his theatre experience, and delivering nonsense monologues.
Can you give readers a quick synopsis of the show ?
Basically, it’s about Englishmen who go to this remote Georgia lodge somewhere South of Atlanta, close to an army base where one character, Froggy, is training new recruits which he does once a year. He brings along his friend, Charlie, who is very shy and introverted, and has a hard time talking. When Charlie finds out he’s going to be left alone while Froggy goes to the base, he panics, so, Froggy works it out for Charlie to act like he doesn’t speak English. Charlie then hears some things he shouldn’t and hilarity ensues. It keeps getting bigger, broader, and as a result, Charlie becomes kind of a touchstone for everybody coming into their own, which is a lot of fun.
So how would you describe your role of Charlie?
Charlie is so much fun, and really all the characters are, because they change so much during the course of the play. And Charlie, as it starts out is so introverted and has a hard time talking with anyone. Well, oddly enough, in the made-up foreign language that he winds up adopting, he is able to converse quite freely. He even winds up telling stories, and that’s tremendous fun. All the residents of the household change and react off each other. It really is a great ensemble show - there’s not any bad parts at all, they’re all so much fun. Even the villains get to have a great time.
So, is playing him unique for you, or is it similar to any parts you’ve played before?
Well, he’s pretty unique, only because you don’t get too many opportunities to have this bizarre amalgam of foreign languages to react to various things. And that’s one of the most unique things about this show. A lot of people assume that Charlie’s just going to be mute and he’s not going to say anything but it doesn’t turn out that way, which is terrific fun. And it is, I think a really underrated show. It has so much heart and it’s so sweet. There are so many unique things about it The audience has been so responsive with it, and it’s a joy.
Do you play a lot of parts in farcical comedies?
Well, yeah, I sometimes do wind up doing quite a few farces. I guess if you have any aptitude for physical comedy and outrageous things that you’ll tend to wind up doing farces, which I don’t mind, they’re tremendous fun. The director, Jimmy Donadio and I have worked together several times, and have had a lot of fun doing farces. The whole thing about doing farces is the stakes are usually so high, and the situations so bizarre, that it can’t help but be a great ride to get on once it starts off.
What part of playing this role do you like the most?
You know, oddly enough, it would be listening. And Charlie gets a wonderful opportunity to listen throughout most of the show, when everything is unfolding in the house. And that’s always been one of my favorite things. It’s such a good company, and I get to watch my friends do these wonderful parts as well, and see what’s going to happen with it, that’s immensely satisfying.