GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Green Bay Community Theater will present eight performances of the Norm Foster comedy “The Gentleman Clothier” starting Feb. 10. Info: gbcommunitytheater.com.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10-11; 4 p.m. Feb. 12; 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16-18; and 4 p.m. Feb. 19-20 in the troupe’s Robert Lee Brault Playhouse, 122 N. Chestnut Ave.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, patrons are required to wear masks in the building.
Snapshot of the play by popular Canadian playwright Norman Foster: A middle-aged tailor is coming to realize that what and who he really wants in his life may not be exactly what he once thought.
The cast consists of Doug Landwehr, Ali Weaver, Kathy Treankler and Tim Killian.
David Zochert, troupe president, is directing this production. Here are his responses to emailed questions:
Q. Norm Foster is popular with Green Bay Community Theater. Do you have any clue how that started?
A. I think Roger Lawyer (longtime actor and director) got hooked on him 20 years ago. I know we did some of what I would call his farcical comedies in the past. I know we have done “Hilda’s Yard” and the classic “Bob’s Your Elf.” Neither of these did much to draw me to him as a storyteller. Then I read “The Melville Boys” – billed as a comedy, four characters, but also a riveting story of a man with terminal cancer who escapes to the Northwoods with his brother so he can talk about his illness. No one else would – it made everybody so uncomfortable. They meet two sisters, and the story progresses from there. A comedy with a profound effect on me. I had a friend who was going through that same terminal illness thing at the time. Completely changed, for the better I hope, the way I talked to him, listened to him.
Q. How does the play start?
A. We meet Norman, an older gentleman who is impeccably dressed. He is in the process of opening a men’s clothing store in the present day. Minutes into the story, and days before he opens the store, he meets Sophie, an “out-there” young woman who is completely the opposite of Norman. From age, to clothing choices, to lifestyle, they could not be more different. Soon after that, we meet Alisha, a secretly unhappy married woman, and finally Patrick, and unemployed shipyard working with a 9-year-old sick daughter. Another four-character Foster play. Comedy, for sure, but four characters all with their own story. The real story is how they interact with each other. Norman thinks he was born too late and longs for the simpler time of the late 1800s. But sometimes different isn’t better for everyone.
Q. What attracted you to this play?
A. Just like “The Melville Boys” affected me, so did “The Gentlemen Clothier.” What if we could go to a different time? Perhaps in the future? Flying cars? Maybe. Or go back into the past where we weren’t glued to our phones or didn’t have to worry about losing the remote, because TV hadn’t been invented yet? Makes for good comedy, but also sparks us to consider the benefits of the here and now that we live and love in.
Q. What does Norm Foster have going for him in this play?
A. I think he comes to the realization that no matter how much we wish for a different time to live in, every choice we could make would affect someone else completely differently. Living 120 years ago would have been “simpler” – but would it really have been better?
Q. Any special production notes?
A. We may or may not have to navigate an English accent somewhere along the way. We found ourselves having to use the same basic set for at least the first three plays – “Odd Couple,” “Greetings!” and “The Gentlemen Clothier.” Our set dressers have done an outstanding job making the same basic set look completely different each time. With the lack of construction people with spare time, well, we are making do.