Cody Jolly and Luke Pengelly rehearse “The Nerd" at the Timber Lake Playhouse -- May 30 through June 9.

Thursday, May 30, through Sunday, June 9

Timber Lake Playhouse, 8215 Black Oak Road, Mt. Carroll IL

Hailed by Variety as a slapstick in which "the audience almost never stops laughing," with "handkerchiefs wiping away tears of merriment," Larry Shue's screwball stage classic The Nerd opens the 2024 mainstage theatre season at Mt. Carroll's Timber Lake Playhouse, its May 30 through June 9 run sure to demonstrate why the Milwaukee Journal raved that "Shue delivers a neatly crafted package that uses some classic comic forms to bring the audience to its knees laughing."

Now an aspiring young architect in Terre Haute, Indiana, The Nerd's Willum Cubbert has often told his friends about the debt he owes to Rick Steadman, a fellow ex-GI whom he has never met but who saved his life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. He has written to Rick to say that, as long as he is alive, “you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you.” So Willum is delighted when Rick shows up unexpectedly at his apartment on the night of his 34rth birthday party. But his delight soon fades as it becomes apparent that Rick is a hopeless nerd – a bumbling oaf with no social sense, little intelligence, and even less tact. Making matters worse, Rick stays on and on, his continued presence among Willum and his friends leading to one uproarious incident after another, until the normally placid Willum finds himself contemplating violence – a dire development, and a potential crime that few jurors would likely convict Willum for.

Shue's comedy first came to life at Milwaukee Repertory Theater through a staged reading in the 1979-80 season, and the show was such a success that it received its world premiere the next season on the theatre's Main Stage (at the PAC’s Todd Wehr Theater) in April of 1981. Shue himself played the role of Willum Cubbert. The Nerd was the top-grossing American play in London's West End in 1986, and the slapstick ran on Broadway for 441 performances (March 22, 1987 – April 10, 1988), with the production starring Mark Hamill and directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. Among The Nerd's many rave reviews, author Thomas M. Disch stated that the play "racks up more laughs, and louder, than any farce this side of Alan Ayckbourn. Noises Off is an academic exercise by comparison, and The House of Blue Leaves demure." The New York Times' Frank Rich, meanwhile, stated that "Shue provides some bright one-liners," with the comedy reminding him of "the cartoon world of Lucille Ball and Gale Gordon."

TLP’s production of The Nerd is directed by Jay Berkow, director of last season’s The Lightning Thief. The production features scenic design by TLP alum Spencer Donovan, lighting design by Abi Farnsworth, costume design by Rachel McElwain, props design by Gabe Seplow, and sound design by Michael Donahue. Meg Rosenberg will assume the role of production stage manager. In the title role of “The Nerd” is Cody Jolly, a longtime member of the Timber Lake family who has been acting at the Playhouse for more than 10 years; audiences most recently saw him in last season’s comedy The 39 Steps. Rounding out the cast is Luke Pengelly, Dana Kreitz, Austin Winter, Matthew Van Gessel, and Brie McClellan, with local actors Ryker Robinson and Noah Query sharing the role of the young Thor Waldgrave.

The Nerd runs at the Mt. Carroll Theatre theatre from May 30 through June 9, with scheduled performances at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $25-35, and more information and tickets are available by calling (815)244-2035 and visiting

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