FRIDAY 5 (+1): Arts Center of Cannon County's 2019 Season Continues With THE NERD
Director Cyndie Verbeten unveils her latest theater project tonight as Larry Shue's The Nerd continues the 2019 season at Woodbury's Arts Center of Cannon County, brought to life by some of the area's favorite actors.
And despite all the accompanying craziness of a helter-skelter tech week, three of her cast members - Valerie Conover, D. Eric Massengill and Danielle Storvik - managed to find time to answer our Friday 5 (+1) questions to give you a glimpse into what makes them tick theatrically and to offer some suggestions for why you should make plans to attend the show, which runs through April 13.
Valerie Conover (Tansy McGinnis)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? That I saw? Honestly, I can't remember. I was extremely fortunate that my parents started exposing me to the arts, (theatre, symphony, dance, etc), at a very young age, which started my love (obsession). The first show I was involved in, was a "Broadway revue" at a church in my home town, and I was hooked!
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I don't think I really have one. I'm usually helping someone else get dressed. I'm a costumer/dresser, by trade.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Another area, where I have been extremely lucky, knock on wood - although, I have some stories from when I used to dress for shows at Cedar Point in Ohio. During one run of the ice show, Snoopy's Summer Vacation, Sally Brown's bathing suit bottoms fell off in the middle of a song. There was nothing we could do, she was on stage until the end of the number.
What's your dream role? I have so many! And right now, I'm at an age where I'm too old for half, and too young for the other half.
Who's your theatrical crush? NPH and Bernadette.
Why should people come see The Nerd? It will make you laugh!
D. Eric Massengill (Axel Hammond)
What was your first "live onstage" taste of theatre? In my senior year of high school I was cast as the comedic lead in a show called Charlie's Aunt. It's a really funny show. After our performances ended, I was hooked. A few weeks later, I played the antagonist in Arsenic and Old Lace.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I always take time to stretch before going on stage. Stretching helps me loosen up and relax. I also hide a page of the script in my left sock during each performance.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Last March, I played Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. Two of our shows were zombie-themed. During one of our zombie shows, I got sick just before intermission. I threw up all during the second act. My fellow cast members literally carried me around back stage with a garbage can in tow. I would throw up before going on, go out and perform my scene, and throw up as soon as I left the stage. It was awful! I am forever grateful to that group of actors who took care of me that night, though.
What's your dream role? I would like to play Bob Ewell in To Kill A Mockingbird. I think it would be a unique challenge to play someone whose worldview is so radically different than my own. Any role in Twelve Angry Men would be great fun as well.
Who's your theatrical crush? To be completely honest, I don't have one. That said, the actress who has captured my heart is my daughter, Ashleigh. She is a phenom on stage (Yes, I know I'm biased.). I aspire to rise to her level of excellence whenever I'm on stage.
Why should people come see The Nerd? We can get so caught up in a busy world with schedules and deadlines and what have you; we need a break from all that. The Nerd is a comedy and I hope that we can help folks forget about their troubles for a couple of hours. Plus, it's directed by Cyndie Verbeten. Need I say more?
Danielle Storvik (Clelia Waldgrave)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My very first live theatre experience was actually at Cannon County, it was Fiddler on the Roof when I was about three years old, but I didn't actually get on stage until I was about 12 when I did Oliver! with my dad (because I was too nervous to audition alone).
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I can't say I actually have one. I guess if it's anything it would be making sure I have a giant drink from Sonic and then peeing in a panic 30 seconds before curtain. I'm pretty sure that happens at least once every show I've done.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Only one really sticks out to me. It was when I played Charity in Sweet Charity. My boyfriend at the time was in the show with me and broke up with me out of nowhere two days before opening night. He played the role that my character was supposed to be star struck by and moon and fawn over for a relatively lengthy scene. I was so angry and hurt but I pushed through and as far as I know, no one could tell I wanted to break down and cry through the whole run. That experience was a good lesson in the importance of professionalism and not to let your cast, crew, audience down...because the show must go on.
What's your dream role? I have a few. Annie Wilkes in Misery is number one, and I'd also love to play Gertrude in Seussical the Musical. The list goes on, but I'll stop there!
Who's your theatrical crush? Does my husband Philip count? I don't actually know, I can't say I have a famous one!
Why should people come see The Nerd? People should come see The Nerd because on top of it being a hilarious show, I think most people can relate to meeting that stereotypical Nerd at some point in their life or has that hard-nosed boss they have to deal with, or has even struck out with a girl they were supposed to be with, which makes it even funnier to see played out sitcom style in front of their eyes. It's relatable in an extreme way and will truly have you in stitches. Who would want to miss that?
About The Nerd Larry Shue's The Nerd, called by some "one of the funniest plays ever written, opens this Friday, March 29 at The Arts Center of Cannon County in a new production directed by Cyndie Verbeten and running through April 13.
In The Nerd, Willum Cubbert has often told his friends about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved his life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. He has written to Rick to say that, as long as he is alive, "will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for"-so Willum is delighted when Rick shows up unexpectedly at his apartment on the night of his 34th birthday party. But his delight soon fades as it becomes apparent that Rick is a hopeless "nerd" -a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence and less tact. And Rick stays on and on, his continued presence among Willum and his friends leading to one uproarious incident after another, until the normally placid Willum finds himself contemplating violence-a dire development which, happily, is staved off by the surprising ending of the play.
Directed by Cyndie Verbeten, this production features Benjamin Wiehern as Wilum Cubbert and Ted Verbeten as Rick Steadman. The cast includes John Ortiz, Eric Massengill, Valerie Conover, Danielle Storvik and Joaquin Highers.
Tickets are $15 with discounts available for students and seniors and can be purchased by calling (615) 563-2787 Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or online at www.artscenterofcc.com and (subject to availability) at the door one hour prior to show time.
The Arts Center is located on 1424 John Bragg Highway, just west of the town of Woodbury, approximately 20 minutes from Murfreesboro, Manchester, and McMinnville and one hour southeast of Nashville.