Meet 'The Boys Next Door'

April 20, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Starting this weekend at The Apollo Civic Theatre, audiences will be introduced to "The Boys Next Door," a compassionate comedy about the lives of four men with developmental disabilities.

The play explores the characters of Norman, Lucien, Arnold and Barry who live together in a group home with a supervisor.

Director Tami McDonald discovered the story of "The Boys Next Door" years ago when it was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, starring Nathan Lane.

"It was enough to interest me into looking into what the play was like," she says. Once she read the script, "I fell in love with it. The story itself is just a very sweet and nicely told story."


"The Boys Next Door" provides several challenging roles for the principal male actors, McDonald says. Since the characters individually struggle with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, schizophrenia, mental delusions or a slowed mental development, the actors are working hard to portray their characters with sensitivity, they say.

"I think the point of the play is to humanize people who are dealing with these issues," says David Ryan, a theater teacher at Martinsburg High School, who is playing a schizophrenic who has delusions he is a golf professional.

Although Ryan has a background in special education, he did Internet research to better understand people with schizophrenia.

"I really wanted to portray it as realistically as possible," he says. "I think at the heart of all these characters is a desire for something that everyday people rather naturally feel."

Ryan said his character, for example, seeks acceptance.

Clay Carey is playing the role of Norman Bulansky for the third time. Carey performed the role of an adult man with Down syndrome when the play was produced in Brunswick, Md. and again when the Potomac Playmakers staged it in Hagers-town. He says the character is one of his favorite roles.

"He's very childlike, which means, I think, he's the most innocent, the most honest, as most kids are," Carey says. "He's funny, yet with this sweet innocence."

Carey says the play has been well received by other Tri-State audiences.

"I think the story gives people an idea of what mentally-challenged people are all about," he says. "They're just like you and me, they just look at things a little different."

If you go ...

WHAT: "The Boys Next Door"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Fridays, April 21 and 28; 8 p.m. Saturdays, April 22 and 29; and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 23 and 30.

WHERE: The Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: $12, Friday and Saturday performances; $10, Sunday matinees; $7, students with valid ID.

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 81 south to Exit 13 in West Virginia. Turn left onto King Street and go about one mile to Queen Street. Turn left onto Queen Street. Go two blocks to Martin Street and turn right. Go one block on Martin Street. The theater is on the right.

MORE: For more information or to reserve tickets call 1-304-263-6766.

Cast and crew

Cast members in The Apollo Civic Theatre's production of "The Boys Next Door": Geronimo "Jerry" Miranda as Arnold Wiggins; Ken McDonald Jr. as Lucien Smith; Charles Boyce as Jack Palmer; Clay Carey as Norman Bulansky; David Ryan as Barry Klemper; Ron Rockwell as Mr. Hedges/Mr. Corbin/Senator Clarke; Kim Herman as Mrs. Fremus/Mrs. Warren/Clara; Elise Haghgoo as Sheila; and Byron Simpson as Mr. Klemper.

Crew members: Tami McDonald, director and producer; Terri Magers, stage manager; Amanda Hartman-Herold, choreographer; Anthony Brooks, lighting design; Ed Boutte, sound engineering; Tom Ballard, set design; Henry Becker, Charles Boyce, Clay Carey, Brandon Darlington, Collin Darlington, Justin Darlington, Steve Darlington, Ross Hudson, Cody McDonald, Ken McDonald and Robyn McDonald, set construction; Hazel Ballard, properties; Kathy Bost, costumes; Heather Magers and Cody McDonald, light operators; Cliff Kurt, sound operator; Robyn McDonald, Heather Magers, Cody McDonald, Steve Darlington and Amanda Hartman-Herold, stage crew.

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