There’s a new sheriff in town at Home Made Theater, but regular visitors to the troupe’s historic and handsome venue in Saratoga State Park are more than likely well aware of Patrick White.
One of the Capital Region’s premiere actor/directors, White is making his debut at Home Made Theater as director of “The Foreigner,” Larry Shue’s clever comedy about a shy Englishman who’s terrified of making conversation. The show opens Saturday night at 7:30 and runs weekends until May 7 at the Spa Little Theater.
While White may be making his directorial debut at Home Made, he has been to the theater on many occasions and became good friends with long-time producing manager Stacie Mayette Barnes.
“I have loved attending dozens of Home Made shows for years, and Stacie has always been so warm, gracious and delightful that I was always hoping for an opportunity to work here,” said White, who has been acting and directing in the Capital Region for more than 20 years now, mostly at Albany Civic, Schenectady Civic and Curtain Call Theatre. “When this opportunity opened up last year and I recommended the play which they had already been discussing it just all worked out. When I got the call last year I was really excited that we had decided to collaborate on ‘The Foreigner.’ It was extraordinarily providential.”
“The Foreigner” stars Ni ck Casey as Charlie Baker, a proofreader for a science fiction magazine who dearly loves his wife, a habitual adulterer. Charlie, an Englishman, is staying at a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, without his wife, and slowly comes out of his shell with the help of some fellow guests. The play had its world premiere in Milwaukee in 1984 before heading to New York City and off-Broadway, winning two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards.
“The play is hysterically funny, smart, and has a heart as big as all outdoors,” said White, a 1981 Colonie High grad who went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. “It’s emotional, spiritual and political, what I consider requirements of a great play. It looks at this group of people who are all going through a trial in life whether financial, health, romantic, familial, and it presents a stranger in this society’s midst and asks, ‘how do you respond?’ Do you look at the different one with suspicion and distrust, castigate them and isolate yourself with your own kind, attempting to extinguish their light, believing that makes yours brighter? We were all foreigners once.”
Debra Bercier plays Betty Meeks, an elderly widow who owns the fishing lodge and takes on a motherly role with all of her guests. Cameron Fredericksen plays Rev. David Marshall Lee, the fiance of Catherine Simms, played by Nicole Mecca, while also in the cast are Dennis Skiba as Froggy LeSueur, Josh Tracey as Ellard Simms, and Rick Wissler as Owen Musser.
While White hasn’t worked on a production with most of the cast members before, he is quite familiar with many of them. Not only a director/actor, White has also become a teacher in the Capital Region community theater, and has offered acting classes most every Saturday morning at the Masonic Lodge in Albany since November of 2014.
“Acting class is fantastic, and it’s turning out to be more than I ever could have hoped for,” said White. “We’re having a blast every Saturday morning working on scenes, auditions, monologues and games. My students have become essential members of the Capital Region theater community, and that promises a brilliant future for the art form in our area.”
To build the set for “The Foreigner,” White recruited for Albany-area stage designer Dale Conklin, who now lives in Massachusetts.
“Doing this play also gave me the opportunity to work with one of my oldest friends and the best set designer I’ve ever worked with, Dale Conklin, who moved out of the area many years ago,” said White. “He happened to have this window of opportunity available and has provided us with a stunning fishing lodge in the woods to play on.”
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theatre, Saratoga State Park
WHEN: Opens Saturday and runs through May 7; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $27-$24
MORE INFO: www.homemadetheater.org, 587-4427