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The Boys Next Door
a Comedy/Drama
by Tom Griffin

COMPANY : Old Alabama Road Company - A Community Theater [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Cumming Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 2252

SHOWING : June 21, 2007 - June 24, 2007



The place is a communal residence in a New England city, where four mentally handicapped men live under the supervision of an earnest, but increasingly "burned out" young social worker named Jack. Norman, who works in a doughnut shop and is unable to resist the lure of the sweet pastries, takes great pride in the huge bundle of keys that dangles from his waist; Lucien P. Smith has the mind of a five-year-old but imagines that he is able to read and comprehend the weighty books he lugs about; Arnold, the ringleader of the group, is a hyperactive, compulsive chatterer, who suffers from deep-seated insecurities and a persecution complex; while Barry, a brilliant schizophrenic who is devastated by the unfeeling rejection of his brutal father, fantasizes that he is a golf pro. Mingled with scenes from the daily lives of these four, where "little things" sometimes become momentous (and often very funny), are moments of great poignancy when, with touching effectiveness, we are reminded that the handicapped, like the rest of us, want only to love and laugh and find some meaning and purpose in the brief time that they, like their more fortunate brothers, are allotted on this earth.

Director Jim Dailey
Costumes Manager Fran Beaudry
Set Construction Manager David Beaudry
Stage Manager Danica Buckley
Lighting Design Danica Buckley
Sound Design James "Duke" Deuschle
Scenic Design John Hemphill
Props Manager Carrie Fetter Shrader
Costume Manager Carrie Fetter Shrader
Lighting Design Jeff Shrader
Lucien Kevin Bolden
Jack Eric Bragg
Fremus/Warren/Clara Bonnie S Coker
Mr. Klemper James "Duke" Deuschle
Norman Matthew Hendrix
Barry Adam Johnson
Sheila Mary Claire Klooster
Arnold Jeff Shrader
Hedges/Corbin/Clarke Karen Walsh
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Oh Boy!
by KristieKrabe
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I only have one complaint with this show (and unfortunately it happens WAAAY too often in Atlanta) and it is the fact that this show only ran one weekend, and not enough people are going to be able to see this gem of a play…

Old Alabama Road Company continues to grow with each production and they hit the proverbial jackpot with this show. The direction, design, and most impressively, the acting, were all top notch.

The Boys Next Door is a tricky subject matter. When dealing with developmental disabilities, there is that fine line between portraying the characters as real honest individuals and giving a caricature of someone with a disability. In today’s PC world that line is very, very thin. The Boys Next Door succeeds in delivering honest, true portrayals of these men.

While you find yourself laughing at Arnold’s (Jeff Shrader) antics and his paranoid view of the world, you also find yourself becoming angry with those who would take advantage of him and frustrated with Arnold for not seeing when he is being duped. You share Norman’s (Matthew Hendrix) joy of a fresh donut and the jingle of keys, and root for his budding romance with equally innocent Sheila (Mary Claire Klooster). Barry (Adam Johnson), the entrepreneurial golf pro seems almost normal, the quirky guy you see around town, who on the surface has everything somewhat together, but when confronted by his abusive father (Duke Deuschle), we see how fragile he really is. The character of Lucien is by far the most brilliantly written and performed role in the play. Kevin Bolden shines in this production. His portrayal of Lucien is so genuine and beautiful. His childlike innocence lets us laugh with him when he finds pleasure in something as simple as reciting the alphabet, yet he ultimately breaks our heart when we get to see him as he sees himself.

These were the most touching scenes in the show - when we get to see the “real” men hiding under the layers of emotional issues the men have. Were it not for these brief glimpses into their inner selves, I don’t think I would have believed that these weren’t the real Boys Next Door.

Beautifully leading us through the world of the Boys is Jack (Eric Bragg), a frazzled young social worker whose life has begun to revolve around these men. You feel his helplessness and frustration with the fact that these guys deserve a better life than what has been dealt to them. You also sympathize with him the fact that he has given up his life for them and no matter how painful it is to pull himself away, he has to find himself again.

Rounding out the cast is a nice mix of supporting actors who give us insight into the world in which the boys interact.

Director Jim Dailey takes a magnificent script and really elevates it to a level that is rarely seen on OTP theaters. I also have to give a shout out to the clever sound design of the show. Pre- and post- show music can really complement a show, and the choices of songs with “Boy” titles were brilliant. I especially loved the curtain call to Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” – Norman’s favorite phrase.

I am, today, still dumbstruck at what a beautiful production this was and look forward to seeing more and more wonderful things out of OARCo.
Welcome, The Boys Next Door
by sbowron
Friday, June 22, 2007
Arnold runs things. He has things under control, compulsively, completely, and authoritatively; until he loses his cool and sees that the world is out to get him. Norman can’t understand why donuts aren’t offered at every social engagement. Lucien knows that things are hard, but he struggles to connect with the world anyway. Barry’s remarkable intelligence gets in the way, so his schizophrenia hides his deep pain. These are the boys next door and Jack, both patient and frustrated, both encouraged and discouraged, is their social worker. In this microcosm, lives are at stake as all five men struggle to keep up with the world.

The Boys Next Door is a brilliantly written play about four men, who are mentally and emotionally challenged living in a group apartment. Their social worker is their connection to the real world. First produced in New Jersey in 1985 and later made into a movie starring Nathan Hale in 1995, The Boys is alternately hilarious and deeply sad. The audience at first laughs hesitantly at the boys’ antics, but then feels part of the family as they recognize the quirkiness in their behavior and laughs in knowing appreciation. The pain in these men’s lives transfers from the characters to the audience in poignant moments leaving behind sadness and a tear.

The Old Alabama Road Company has brought a play to The Cumming Playhouse that is worth its salt. The reality of the characters’ situation rings true in every word and gesture. The company is unparalleled. Under the direction of Jim Dailey, the casting was supremely done with extremely rewarding results. Every character was authentic. This play could and should be at the Alliance Theatre and any one of the company could share that stage. As remarkable as each of them were, the surprise performance comes from Kevin Bolden as Lucien P. Smith. His performance was of such high caliber, no one would ever guess it was his very first time on the stage.

Little did the director and cast know that the audience on Opening Night contained a large contingency of possible critics. President and CEO Richard Davis of Developmental Disabilities Ministries (DDM) and his staff selected The Boys Next Door as their company outing. DDM’s ministry is focused on providing group homes in a Christian setting for the mentally and emotionally impaired. Throughout the evening, many shook their heads and smiled as the boys tried to get through routine tasks and quietly acknowledged their own limitations when Jack pronounced that he felt so much like a failure.

The Boys Next Door has a short window of opportunity at The Cumming Playhouse from June 21 – 24. But anything coming back next season from the Old Alabama Road Company should be marked. They’ve hit a home run in their premier performance at The Cumming Playhouse. Welcome, The Boys Next Door!
Interesting Review by Richard Long
sbowron, your review was well written and the show sounds great. The only problem I have here is that I looked at your review history and you have never written one that was below a "5.0". I find this odd. You're stating that every show you have attended is flawless and that you wouldn't have possibly seen a better production of it. Would you care to explain this?


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