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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 04:58 pm

The laughs are guaranteed

The Nerd continues this weekend at the Hoogland

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The Springfield Theatre Center presents The Nerd
DONNA LOUNSBERRY, PRODUCTION PHOTOGRAPHER FOR STC

If you’ve never seen Larry Shue’s play The Nerd, try making a point of catching one of the performances being presented by the Springfield Theatre Centre at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Steve Williams directs the comedy, which is continuing into its second weekend, Feb. 15-17 with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Nerd is an example of what a good playwright can do. It is such a well-made comedy, and you will see why it ran for so long when it was originally produced. It has the typical “houseguest from hell” plot (The Man Who Came to Dinner), but Shue turns the whole thing on its head and the audience has no clue how things will end up. The play continues to be produced in theaters every year.
The Nerd premiered off-Broadway in 1981 and became a long-running hit in New York. It was a big hit in London as well and moved to Broadway in 1987. (Shue — who grew up in Chicago and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington — had one more hit, The Foreigner, before dying at age 39 in a 1985 plane crash in Virginia.) Call the Hoogland box office for tickets (217-523-2787).
Coming up is a play not seen in the area and one not to miss: Wit, the Pulitzer Prize-winner by a first-time playwright, Margaret Edson, will be playing in Theatre I at the Hoogland Center for the Arts Feb. 22-24 in a co-production by Over the Moon Productions and the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University and Central Illinois Palliative Care Initiative. Leigh Steiner, directed by Kevin Purcell, stars in the role of a university professor faced with a cancer diagnosis. Yes, it’s a powerful, emotional piece — but it’s not a downer. Wit is a beautiful play, and you will be glad that you saw it. A gala fundraiser for the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute is scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, and the play continues with performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. For ticket information, call 217-523-2787.
Finally, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, St. Louis’ Black Rep will be performing two shows of the touring play No Land’s Man: A Chapter in the Lives of Dred and Harriet Scott, a drama about the 1857 Supreme Court case, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Showtimes are 1 and 6:30 p.m. Call the box office (217-558-8934) for information.
Director/writer/actor Phil Funkenbusch is a regular contributor.
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