Director Ben Gavitt tells folks who are unfamiliar with the play ''The Nerd'' that it's kind of like the 2010 movie comedy ''Dinner for Schmucks.''
But local theatergoers, at least those older than 45 or so, should be very familiar with the work of playwright Larry Shue.
There was a stretch in the late '80s when it seemed that no community theater season was complete without Shue's ''The Nerd'' or ''The Foreigner,'' both of which got multiple stagings in the Mahoning Valley.
Tribune Chronicle photos /Andy Gray
Chris Wineland, second from left, plays an unexpected party guest in the comedy ‘‘The Nerd.’’ The rest of the cast includes, from left, H. Keith Bowers, Brian Suchora and Alicia Sanders.
And they're making a comeback. The Victorian Players staged ''The Foreigner'' last season, and Trumbull New Theatre is opening its 2012-13 season with ''The Nerd,'' which it first staged in 1988.
''It's a really funny show, and it hasn't been done here for awhile,'' Gavitt said.
The director described the title character as ''That annoying houseguest who comes over during a dinner party, and it's hard to get rid of them.''
''The Nerd'' is the first of five shows in Trumbull New Theatre's 2012-13 season. Other productions include:
Nov. 3-18 - ''It's a Wonderful Life''
Feb. 1-17, 2013 - ''The Sunshine Boys''
April 5-21, 2013 - ''Shakespeare in Hollywood''
May 31-June 16, 2013 - ''Honky Tonk Angels''
Season / patron tickets good for all five shows are $50 for an individual $90 for a pair, $160 for four season tickets and $235 for six season tickets.
The play takes place at a dinner party planned by Willum, a young architect, to impress his boss. Just as the party starts, Rick Steadman arrives. Rick saved Willum's life in Vietnam. Willum never has seen Rick, but they've exchanged letters, and Willum extended an open invitation to Rick that he's available whenever for whatever Rick needs.
Turns out what Rick really needs are some social graces. His bumbling, oddball antics turn the party into a slapstick farce and a nightmare for Willum.
''This is one of the most challenging shows I've ever done,'' Gavitt said.
There are a lot of props, including food, which are integral elements of the comedy, he said. There are other technical elements as well, like 15 answering machine messages and other sound cues.
Since the play is set in 1982, Gavitt said he tried to incorporate some of that decade's fashion extremes into the production, but he didn't want to overdo it.
There are plenty of laughs in Shue's script, but Gavitt said he also is relying on the outside experience of some of his cast members. Chris Wineland, who plays the title character, is a standup comedian, and Craig Mills, who plays Willum's best friend, has an improv background.
''They help bring some of the funny to it,'' Gavitt said.
The rest of the cast features Brian Suchora, Alicia Sanders, H. Keith Bowers, Cher Halas, Ethan Deemer, Ethan Montoya and the voice of Steve Halas.