New York transplant Brian Yorkey returns home to direct ‘The Foreigner’
January 21, 2014
By Peter Clark
A Village Theatre alum has come home to takes audiences south with “The Foreigner.”
Brian Yorkey, celebrated playwright, lyricist and director, has returned to direct the two-act comedy play, which opens Jan. 23. He could not be happier.
“I always love to work here,” Pulitzer prize winner Yorkey said of Issaquah and Village Theatre. “This is home to me. Also, it’s a play I’ve loved since I was a teenager.”
Written by Larry Shue, “The Foreigner” tells the story of two British travelers, Charlie Baker and “Froggy” LeSueur, who make their way to a Georgia fishing lodge. Shy and wrestling with emotional turmoil, Baker refuses to speak, leaving LeSueur to introduce him as an exotic foreigner who does not know a word of English. Thinking Baker does not understand them, the locals engage in one-sided word play which eventually reveals many secrets and a few schemes.
“I saw it at Pioneer Square Theater when I was young,” Yorkey said. “It was just fantastic. It’s hilarious, it’s odd and it has a really good heart.”
Yorkey has been with Village Theatre since starting at the KIDSTAGE. He worked his way up to spend eight years as the associate art director. While in the position, he said he constantly lobbied for the theater to put on “The Foreigner.”
“I pestered and I pestered,” he said, laughing that they chose to do the show after he left. “When it finally came up, they called me to direct.”
Though it might be a dream for Yorkey to direct the play, it still demands a lot of hard work. He helped cast in August, but proper rehearsals did not begin until Dec. 30.
“It’s been a very intense process,” he said. “But I have great actors and great human beings. That’s always a plus.”
He described casting of “The Foreigner” as a very specific process.
“Every single person is a character,” Yorkey said. “They are vivid and quirky, and we were looking for real distinct actors.”
To his cast’s credit, he said he not only found actors with some Southern sensibilities, but also some real characters.
“There are absolutely no ordinary people in this cast,” he said with a smile. “And we have someone from Georgia, from Kansas and Texas.”
“The Foreigner” features a great deal of activity and the word “madcap” is often used to describe it.
“I won’t say it’s an easy play to stage,” Yorkey said, confident in the story he will bring to audiences. “The madcap parts have to come naturally. It has to be grounded in reality.”
Yorkey last directed 2011’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” at Village Theatre and he has not been idle since. The day after “The Foreigner” opens, he flies back to Broadway to oversee rehearsals for his new musical, “If/Then.”
After that, he said he is working on several theatrical adaptations, including the 2012 film “Magic Mike.” And said he has a few film projects in the works.
Though he has moved to New York City and filled his shelves with awards, he has not forgotten what Village Theatre meant to his life.
“Part of the reason I love coming here is that split of you always feel embraced and no one’s going to take your crap,” Yorkey said. “No one’s all that impressed. They like me, but they expect me to hold up my end.”
if you go
4Jan. 23 to March 2
4Francis Gaudette Theatre
4303 Front St. N.