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‘Nerd’ promises knee-slapping humor

When the play cast still laughs at the jokes after weeks of rehearsal, you know powerful humor is center stage.


That’s the case for the season-opening play for State University Theatre on the South Dakota State University campus. “The Nerd” opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Doner Auditorium and runs nightly through Oct. 20 with a 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, performance.

Zach Swanson, who has the lead role, said, “It’s very difficult to keep a straight face” during rehearsals.The plot involves a surprise guest (Rick Steadman, played by Eric Mette, of Tea,) who outstays his welcome when he arrives for the birthday party of Willum Cubbert (Swanson). The humor revolves around Steadman’s outlandish social behavior.

“There are such awkward situations that you can’t help but laugh,” said Swanson of Oldham.

He said his favorite scene is when his character, his love interest (Tansy McGinnis, played by Sadie Jensen, of Brookings), his friend (Axel Hammond, played by Jacob Hofer, of Sioux Falls), and the Nerd (Mette) host a traditional dinner in Terre Haute, Ind., where the play is set.

“That whole scene is ludicrous,” Swanson said. “We go from sharing heartwarming snippets of our past, from pork dances to listening to old radio productions to watching an apple core on the table.” He said the humor is both “obvious to your general onlooker and detailed to anyone who would take a closer look.”

The script by Larry Shue is described as “a neatly crafted package that uses some classic comic forms.”

One example is when Cubbert and his friends engage in bizarre rituals in an effort to get Rick to leave. But they find Rick is enjoying himself. He then joins the chant and shouts for them to throw cottage cheese out the window. They do, only to have Cubbert’s boss enter the apartment covered with a pile of cottage cheese.

The humor has even greater impact when delivered by “one of the most talented casts I’ve seen,” Swanson said.

Other cast members are Blake Farber, of Sioux Falls, as Warnock Waldgrave, Cubbert’s employer; Kate Kanne, of Redwood Falls, Minn., as Mrs. Waldgrave; and Oscar Kavanagh, of Brookings, as the Waldgraves’ son. Sue Klemp, assistant professor of theater, directs. She said that while the play is a comedy, it has a mystery ending that puts the characters in perspective.

Audience members can find out for themselves starting Oct. 17. Ticket prices: Adults, $18; senior citizens, $16; SDSU faculty and staff, $12; non-SDSU students/children, $11. SDSU students are admitted free with an ID card. The ticket window opens at 6 p.m. nightly.

For more information, call the box office between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 688-6045 or go to

Photo caption: “The Nerd” — State University Theater opens its 2012-13 season with “The Nerd,” starring Zach Swanson, left, as Willum Cubbert and Eric Mette as Rick Steadman. The curtain at Doner Auditorium rolls back at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17. The play runs through Oct. 21.