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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘The Outsider’ at Menasha has stories behind it

Critic At Large

Attic Chamber Theatre

Play image. (Attic Chamber Theatre)

MENASHA, Wis. (WFRV) – The basics:

Attic Chamber Theatre will present the Paul Slade Smith comedy “The Outsider” starting this week in Lucia Baehman Theatre in the Communication Arts Center of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus. Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 11-13; 2 p.m. Nov. 14; and 7 p.m. Nov. 18-20. Info: attictheatreinc.com.

The rest of the story:

The play has origins in our region. It premiered in 2015 at Peninsula Players Theatre, a famed Door County professional company.

The title then was “A Real Lulu.”

The production starred Greg Vinkler, not only artistic director of the company, but an actor of wide repute from contemporary comedies to Shakespearean roles.

The playwright is Paul Slade Smith. He also wrote “Unnecessary Farce,” another popular show.

Paul Slade Smith had acted with Peninsula Players Theatre. At the time in 2015, he was acting on Broadway in “Finding Neverland.” Later Broadway roles were in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “My Fair Lady.”

From my review in 2015, this opening: “Seven minutes. The audience of ‘A Real Lulu’ hears that a live TV interview will happen in seven minutes in a governor’s office. What takes place in that slice of time is the crux of the story. From there comes a launch toward destiny for the remarkable comedy by Paul Slade Smith. Mr. Smith deserves to go to Washington – and all around our nation – with this inspirational satire.”

“A Real Lulu,” now “The Outsider,” has had 58 productions. More are on the horizon.

Snapshot from the theater: Ned Newley doesn’t even want to be governor. He is terrified of public speaking; his poll numbers are impressively bad. To his ever-supportive chief of staff, Ned seems destined to fail. But political consultant Arthur Vance sees things differently. Ned might be the worst candidate to ever run for office – unless the public is looking for… the worst candidate to ever run for office. The comedy skewers politics and celebrates democracy.

Dee Savides directs. She has directed for Attic Chamber Theatre and elsewhere, including “Unnecessary Farce” at Riverside Players in Neenah.

Featured as Ned Newley is Steve Savides, an Attic Chamber Theatre veteran and senior pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton.

In the role of Louise, a temporary secretary brought into the fray is Susan Rabideau, who is very familiar with the building and the stage as director of theater for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus. “Louise is cheerful and confident,” my 2015 review says. “She also can’t get names straight, doesn’t know how to operate a telephone system and makes her job title sound like she is assistant governor. That’s just for starters.”

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