MAY 18 – JUNE 18, 2022
May 18 & 19 at 7:30 PM 
Opening Night
May 20 at 8:00 PM
Pay What You Can:
May 25 at 7:30 PM

Wed/Thu: 7:30 PM
Fri/Sat: 8:00 PM
Sat Mat: 2:00 PM

Length: 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission
Age Recommendation: 12+ children under 5 are never admitted

P.S. Don’t forget: Subscribers get $7 off additional regularly priced single tickets to Jewell Mainstage productions!


Taproot Presents the Friendship Filled Comedy The Nerd

Three’s already a crowd in Willum’s house, but it’s as tight as a game of sardines when Rick unexpectedly arrives. He’s as interesting as quality control at a chalk factory, until his antics jeopardize Willum’s career. Sure, Rick once saved Willum’s life, but now he’s ruining it! Pass the deviled eggs, this party’s about to become a saucer-smashing good time!

Set in Terre Haute, Indiana in late 1979, The Nerd was first presented by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre in 1981 with the author, Larry Shue, playing the lead role of Willum Cubbert, Then The Nerd had its European premiere in 1982 and ran for 441 performances on Broadway from 1987 – 1988. 

The action centers on the hilarious dilemma of Willum, telling us of the debt he owes a fellow ex-GI who saved his life after he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. He writes to this ex-GI that as long as he is alive, “you will have somebody on Earth who will do anything for you.” 

The Nerd is about just that, loyalty among friends – each hilarious individual wanting what is best for each other. And doing what is necessary. 

“The Nerd is a story of friends who will do whatever it takes to help out another friend. They will rescue a friend from an unhealthy rut—even over that friend’s protests—because they know that friends don’t let friends stay stuck. Tansy, Axel, and Willum are an odd trio. Their solutions to any problem are almost certain to create more problems. But, as I laugh at them, I’m also cheering for them, because they are all striving for each other’s highest good.” said Karen Lund in her Director’s Note. 

The Nerd is a tribute to friendship and asks us to laugh at characters who probably remind us of the friends we have in our own lives. 

As Literary Manager, Sonja Lowe highlights, “Larry Shue’s hilarious comedy is a story about friends … Friends like these can make life complicated, but underneath all their zaniness is a true loyalty that keeps them striving for each other’s highest good.” 

Co-Directors Karen Lund, Producing Artistic Director, and Marianne Savell direct a cast of Theo Detrano (Taproot debut), Kate Jaeger (Always, Patsy Cline, Persuasion: A New Musical), Josh McCabe (Taproot debut), Valerie Ryan Miller (Taproot debut), Conner Neddersen (The Explorers Club, Lady Windermere’s Fan), Matthew Posner (Babette’s Feast, Persuasion), David Quicksall (Taproot debut), Sage Russell (Taproot debut), and Darius Sakui (Taproot debut). 

The production team includes: Ian Bond, Fight and Intimacy Director, Marianna de Fazio, Dialect Coach, Mark Lund, Scenic and Sound, Michelle Rodriguez, Stage Manager, Kelly Rogers Flynt, Dramaturg, Pete Rush, Costume Designer, Michael Wellborn, Lighting Designer. 

“…the audience almost never stops laughing—handkerchiefs wiping away tears of merriment…”
– Variety

…a spring tonic of side-bruising laughter…
– The Milwaukee Tribune

Shue delivers a neatly crafted package that uses some classic comic forms to bring the audience to its knees, laughing.”
– The Milwaukee Journal


Tickets are on sale now! Learn more here →

ACTOR SPOTLIGHT: Three Child Actors Playing Thor WaldgraveTheo Detrano, Josh McCabe, Sage Russell 

Theo Detrano, Josh McCabe, and Sage Russell playing Thor in The Nerd

In The Nerd, three child actors are playing the same role: Thor Waldgrave. Theo Detrano, Josh McCabe, and Sage Russell have had the experience of sharing this individual role and rehearsing together. Because of the young age required for this role, it is essential to hire multiple children so no one gets exhausted and in the case of sickness. But, as you can quickly tell from this interview, they have had a blast together and are excited for their friends and family to see them shine. 

Get to know Theo, Josh, and Sage and hear about their experience in this production. Interviewed by Michael Hurd, who is the show’s male understudy.  

The Nerd is playing May 18th – June 18th on our Jewell Mainstage.  

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Director of Operations and Finance, Dwight Hutton

Director of Operations and Finance, Dwight HuttonThe Nerd is the first of our 2022 Mini-Season and, with that, the close of the “2020” season as The Spitfire Grill was the final play originally scheduled. With this exciting new start, we are also thrilled to welcome Dwight Hutton as the new Director of Finance and Operations. 

Q. What does your title really mean?

A. Being the Director of Finance and Operations means I’m the de facto CFO, overseeing all the finances and accounting for the organization. As a non-profit there are special rules that can and do apply. And the operations portion involves facilities, meaning anything in the building. I am also the resource for HR.

Q. That feels a little detached from what happens on stage; help us understand how your job connects to the magic that everyone sees when they walk into the theatre.

A. Being a long-time performing arts professional, I really, truly see my job as just being another backstage position. Everyone likes getting paid and likes getting paid on time. They like to know they have insurance and that the heat will come on and the computers will work. So, it really is a backstage job. It is an integral part of allowing artists to work.

Q. Have you ever been a professional performer?

A. I have. It’s rare for a rural Missouri boy, but I discovered professional dance and ballet in college. And was lucky to commence a 20-year performance career as a professional ballet dancer. So coming into it as an adult in college, finishing a business degree early on, I always looked at it with a little different perspective than people who started dancing when they were three and spent every day of their life in a studio. It made the transition as painless and easy as possible going from a full-time performer to something else. 

Q. Speaking of which, what was the transition like to the “business” side of the performing arts?

A. I transitioned into administration pretty quickly. I got my first full-time dance job because I could type a program. I wasn’t that great of a dancer at the time. But they asked “Oh can you type our programs? Can you type this?” I often said that I got in the door and was in the back line on stage because I could do stuff in the office. And then I worked and developed and progressed enough to be on the front line on stage. And then immediately became a “suit” again. And for me it was easy; I had a very, very successful, satisfying artistic career. And my body would not let me do it anymore. I had two surgeries in three months. Even after I transitioned within the company and had retired officially, I still performed full-time for the next three years while I was the Company Manager. That made the transition easy. But at the same time my administrative skills, background, and ability to discuss any number of things with other staff, vendors, and donors prepared me well. Many artists at that level haven’t had any relevant experience outside of the studio. 

Q. What is your favorite thing about being in the art world?

A. Just the joy, the beauty, and the people. The theater has been my church home. People’s lives are transformed by sitting in the audience and watching and listening to a performance. Many people don’t see those levels of emotion and that arch in everyday life. And it’s a social situation. We are social. Whether you talk to the person next to you or not, you are still sitting with them and being with them. And my being visual and a movement professional, I love seeing bodies’ freedom on the stage.

Q. What are your favorite comedies?

A. I enjoy laughing. The Philadelphia Story is a fun movie; it’s tensions and interpersonal jokes and relationships and having fun and teasing without being cruel. Peter Anastos did a hilarious ballet called Yes Viginia, Another Piano Ballet. It’s from the 80s and was a spoof on what can go wrong. But it was hilarious and fun to perform.

Q. What’s your favorite party game?

A. I have always enjoyed Trivial Pursuit and trivia games. Well to be honest, it’s selfish, because I was always rather good. My best friend always had a dictionary, and he would just open the book and pick out words; I almost always knew what the word meant. He enjoyed it because he was trying to stump me. I think I would have been considered a nerd in my younger years.  

Q. What’s your favorite party food from the 80’s?

A. The good ole Chex Mix trail mix. Doritos. Popcorn. That’s also when we started doing tortilla wraps and cutting them up. I also discovered mayonnaise as a dip for fries. Pigs in a blanket. And, of course, cheese. Cheese is a food group in our house. Any type of cheese. Even if it was the ubiquitous small cheddar squares with toothpicks.   

Q. What are qualities you look for in a friendship?

A. Someone to have fun with. Someone to trust. Most of my friends are all around the country, but we pick up and have a great time whenever we see each other. And interestingly, because of my persona and being in the dance world, many of my best friends can be rather hyper, but always fun and entertaining.  My presence attracted them I think because I am always calm and unflappable. I can keep up with them wherever they went – physically, intellectually, or whatever. They kept me sparked. That’s kind of how I work with individuals anyway. One of the reasons I have succeeded in the art world is that my natural countenance is low and typically goes lower when craziness is happening. So, it’s always been a great gift.

Q. Has a friend ever said something you didn’t want to hear but were thankful for? Why is this important?  

A. Of course. Some of my best friends would offer comments and critiques of performances that were always appreciated. I always try to be open to those comments even in a business setting. It’s important because they often highlight aspects of yourself that you don’t like and it affects other people in ways that you don’t intend.

Q. What about The Nerd are you looking forward to? 

A. I am looking forward to seeing it. I don’t know the production. So, I am really looking forward to it because it’s a play that Karen has directed, and it will be filled with her sense of humor.  And I know it will be respectful humor in the context of the play. So, I am looking forward to exploring and discovering a new production.

ART SPOTLIGHT: The Colors of Paradise

The Colors of Paradise: Paintings by Kevin Cosley

This spring you found the walls of the Kendall Center lobby ablaze with color. The latest in our series of art exhibitions featuring local artists, The Colors of Paradise: Paintings by Kevin Cosley, offers nearly a dozen works by the Seattle-based intuitive painter. 

Kevin’s work reflects the best part of the art-making process. Primarily self-trained, he came to the profession of artist after retirement. And he dove right into training at Gage Academy of Art in Capitol Hill where he learned from master artists Kimberly Trowbridge and Geoff Flack. His working style is focused on the interpretation of his experiential learning – in other words, he sees, hears, smells his surroundings, and allows his hand and brain and heart to interpret these senses into paint on canvas. 

After deciding which pieces fit best in Taproot’s space and scheduling a time for installation, the delivery day had to be changed after Kevin was injured (he’s recovering strongly, thankfully). With the warmth of friendship, two of his studio mates in the Equinox Studios in Georgetown, came to the rescue, delivering the paintings with time to spare. This act of friendship is a testament to the closeness of the community of artists and a further reflection of the support we see here every day at Taproot. 

The Colors of Paradise continue to inspire and bring joy this spring. That is art – a format to connect and converse and contemplate. It’s what the plays on our Mainstage do at Taproot. It’s what students do in our Acting Studio. It’s what our Early Stage Memory Loss classes do. Thank you for being a part of Taproot! And make sure you stop into our lobby to see The Colors of Paradise. 

Next on the Jewell Mainstage: Black Coffee

Black Coffee playing Jul 13 - August 13

Playing on the Jewell Mainstage July 13 – August 13, 2022
by Agatha Christie 

The formula for a secret weapon has been stolen, and that isn’t the only mystery in the Amory house! When Sir Claude discovers the theft, he locks his family in the library. Moments later there’s a dead body, a room full of suspects, and a Belgian sleuth at the door. Witness the famous Hercule Poirot untangle a jumble of deceptions to discover whodunit. 


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3 Show Mini-Season: The Nerd, Black Coffee, The Legacy of Us

THIS SUMMER: Get ready for the reveal of Taproot’s 2022 Christmas production (Nov 23 – Dec 30)!