The Crystal Spring Players present:
March 12-March 14, 2010

If you have never seen this provocative comedic take on our preconceived attitudes and stereotypes, don’t miss this very lovely performance by the Crystal Spring Players. The production is directed by Kathleen Maxwell and she has managed to keep the action fast and engaging, the dialogue sharp and real and the cast so wll orchestrated that the action is very like a dramatic dance.
This play was written by Larry Shue and had a record-breaking run at New York’s Astor Place Theatre where Shue played Charlie Baker, who dubs himself “the world’s dullest man. In this production, Steven Mattes plays Charlie Baker and gives it his own special touch. THE FOREIGNER is a comedy with a heart. It is a sweet, funny, scary play about people’s need to fit in and their ability to create family from strangers. The Crystal Springs cast never lets you forget that message.
This production shines because of the combination of Shue’s touch for sharp, comedic repartee and an ensemble that respond to one another like clockwork. The direction, the acting and the meshing of all the elements of good drama work so well that they elevate the story into something greater and more touching than a superficial farce. Charlie Baker is a man who has been defeated by life and is so sure that life has made the correct judgment about his inadequacies, that he adopts a lifestyle that expects rejection. He sees himself as a nothing and wants to wallow in his inadequacies. Yet we love him because he is such a defeated and confused man. When we meet him, he has no respect for himself and when we leave him he is a powerful human being who understands that he can do whatever he believes in, if he will but try.
Charlie Baker is introduced to Betty Meeks, (Pamela Forensi) owner of a failing, remote fishing lodge in Georgia as someone who cannot understand a word of English. Forensi has internalized her character to the point where it would be very difficult to convince her audience that she isn’t really Betty Meeks. Her comedic timing is perfect and her character shines from the moment this play opens until its finale. She never overshadows the other characters and yet she always shines. When she meets Baker, she is charmed to think that he cannot speak English and hails from some exotic land never defined in the play. From this misconception, the comedy takes off with predictable ploys like Meeks shouting at Baker to make him understand her, to the stupid sister, Ella (played with beauty and heart by Jennifer Mattes, who steals this show for me). I do not believe I have ever seen a more touching and delightful sequence than Ella teaching Charlie English with a southern accent so thick it defies pronunciation coupled with a faith that he can master a new language in no more than ten minutes, because she is teaching it to him.
Despite a devious plot that involves prejudice, the KKK and a preacher gone bad, and a series of predictable twists and turns that only farce can make palatable, this is a meaningful story of how we humans nourish each other and the magic that can happen to us all when we treat one another with love and respect.
The production is fast paced and that pace keeps us from noticing the artificiality of some of the characters as they gallop through the machinations of uncovering the bad guys and saving the good. No matter. The puns are perfect; the laughter makes up for it all.
When the final curtain falls, no one really cares if the people on stage were real or if the plot makes sense. Every member of that audience had way too good a time to nit pick veracity, depth or message. This is a play that is fun in every sense of the word and the only sad note is that its playwright was killed in a plane crash in 1985 and can give us no more of his marvelous comedic creations.

2145 Bunker Hill Drive
San Mateo, CA 94402
Reservations: 650 345 2381
March 12: The Champagne Gala
Other performances: March 13,18,19 20@8p.m.
March 14@ 7 pm.

Kids under 14 free with a paying adult.


FOREVER BROADWAY premiered live at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco, February 27, 2010 to a sell-out crowd. If you missed this delightful revue of all your favorite Broadway melodies, you can catch the encore performance March 21st @ 3 p.m. at Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. The show is the ultimate all singing, all dancing salute to Broadway’s best. It features semi-professional performers who are either new to the stage or still hoping to make their mark. Listening to them will convince you that there is an unbelievable amount of unrecognized talent out there that needs to be showcased and encouraged. The cast’s enthusiasm and love of song adds an extra dimension to the fine singing and dancing that graced the Herbst Theater stage on this first performance.

Although this is an ensemble piece, some singers added a special shine to their presentations. Désirée Goyette added her own personal touch to Unusual Way from NINE and Send in the Clowns from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC with the ensemble, and Suzanne Henry sent us to heaven with Stars And The Moon from SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD. The truth is that it was the entire company who stole this show. Every number synchronized music and dance with all the excitement and magic that spells Broadway to all of us who love musical theater.

Josh Fargher’s imaginative choreography makes accomplished dancers out of every member of this enormous cast and John Bisceglie has a knack for capturing our imaginations in many exciting and unexpected ways. We saw it when he gave us The San Francisco Follies, last year. This huge tribute to San Francisco was crammed into the tiny Actor’s Theater and played to packed houses for thirteen weeks. It was named one of the top ten Best Bay Area shows of the 2009 season.

FOREVER BROADWAY is no less an accomplishment. It is a theatrical gem on every level: the music, the dancing, the voices and the excitement that emanates from the stage …all make for a spellbinding evening. These performers love what they are singing and the audience responds to them as much as they thrill to familiar, beloved and ever-appealing music that has earned its place in our hearts. These melodies thrilled us first on the musical stage and they have proved their longevity in this spectacular revue.

Bisceglie keeps the pace varied and fast moving, with no less than 55 songs in the first act and 30 in the second. Each song brings back memories of the show that featured it and the audience is hard pressed NOT to sing along with the melodies that have earned a permanent place in our hearts.

Don’t miss the encore March performance. ”Join our dynamic 60 person ensemble as they sing and dance their way through 100 years of Broadway,” says Bisceglie. “Our high energy show combines a super selection of Broadway classics with songs from today's hottest shows, filled with comedy, dance and beautiful music.”

I agree.

For more information:
Box Office: 415-392-4400