Corrections or additions?
This article by Deb Cooperman was prepared for the December 15,
2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Stocking’s Full? Try a Bed
Ah, it’s that time of year again. You shop and you schlep and battle
the overcrowded parking lots. You make the party rounds and you wrap
packages and you prepare to entertain the relatives. When it comes
time to relax and unwind, you’d like to sit on the couch, flick on the
television and be entertained, but you’re up to your eyeballs with
decked halls and "It’s a Wonderful Life." Maybe now is a good time to
go out and see live theater, but really, how many times can you see "A
Not to worry. The folks at Off-Broadstreet Theater in Hopewell are
preparing a holiday offering like no other. With "A Bed Full of
Foreigners," Off-Broadstreet is presenting (hard to believe, but true)
a comedy with NO holiday theme whatsoever. The play runs on Friday and
Saturday nights, and on Sunday with a matinee performance through
Saturday, January 22. (There are no performances on December 24, 25,
or 26.) "This time of year we try to do something that’s a diversion
from the holidays," says co-producer Julie Thick. With so many
theaters offering holiday fare, "we purposely try to do something
"Rated PG-13" according to Thick, "A Bed Full of Foreigners" was
written by Dave Freeman, a former writer for the outrageous comedian
Benny Hill. "It’s a real English farce," says Thick.
Taking place in a resort town in France, not far from the German
border, the story centers on Stanley and Claude – two men who have
mistakenly been booked into the same hotel room. Stanley is there for
what he hopes will be a relaxing holiday with his wife, and Claude is
planning a tryst with his mistress. It just happens that his wife is
there too. Full of the requisite slamming doors, mistaken identities,
and the wrong people in the wrong beds, "A Bed Full of Foreigners" is
sure to get you laughing, and there’s not a reindeer, sugar plum
fairy, or old coot in need of redemption in the lot.
Bouncing in and out of beds in the role of Claude is Princeton
resident Tom Stevenson, a regular on Off-Broad Street’s stage for over
With a father in the Marine Corp, Stevenson’s family moved around a
lot, but settled in South Jersey when he was nine. Involved in theater
in high school, Stevenson didn’t consider pursuing it as a career; a
"hippy-ish, nature loving" bent propelled him to a degree in
horticulture at Virginia Tech.
After graduating, Stevenson worked in South Jersey in the nursery
industry propagating and growing plants. Several years later he moved
to the Princeton area, where he took a position with Bowman’s Hill
Wildflower Preserve in New Hope developing and maintaining the native
plants in the 100-acre preserve.
At the same time, Stevenson had also developed a taste for zymurgy –
the art and science of turning plants like malt and hops into beer. He
brewed small batches in his home, and considered it an enjoyable
hobby, nothing more. But after nearly five years with Bowman’s Hill,
Stevenson began to feel that his horticulture career was headed
nowhere. That’s when he heard about the impending opening of Triumph
Brewery in Princeton.
"I had the beer making bug," he says. He went to meet the owners. "I
told them they couldn’t possibly do it without me, and somehow that
stuck." How, he isn’t so sure. "It’s very different making five
gallons in your home, and making 325 gallons at a time in a brewery,
where you’re going to expect people to pay for what you’re making," he
says. But pay they have; in February, Stevenson, 53, marks 10 years as
"It’s great working in that atmosphere," he says. "There’s lots of
stimulation; the staff is full of interesting people."
It’s the people that brought Stevenson to acting as well. "I did a lot
of plays back in high school, but then I didn’t do anything at all for
a long time," he says. About 15 years ago, after the breakup of a long
term relationship, Stevenson says he "needed something to get me out
to relate to other human beings." Living in South Jersey at the time,
he began with an acting class at the Ritz Theater in Oakland. When he
moved north for the Bowman’s job, he contacted Julie and Robert Thick
of Off-Broad Street. "There was a relationship between the producers
at the Ritz and the Thicks," he says. "I’d heard about Off-Broadstreet
and I thought it was time to take a visit." He landed a part in
"Arsenic and Old Lace," the first of many roles on the Hopewell stage
The pace of a full-time job and a rehearsal schedule doesn’t faze him.
"Everybody in the cast has regular jobs; this is how people with day
jobs do it," he says. "Instead of sitting in the living room watching
TV, I go to rehearsal for three hours."
With "A Bed Full of Foreigners," Stevenson enjoys the extremes of his
character, Claude. "He’s this misbehaving husband on one hand, and
this strident moralizer on the other; the contrast provides a lot of
While Claude has a moralizing side, don’t expect to see any ghosts of
mis-spent past lives here; just an all out romp with laughs at every
slamming door. So get thee to Off Broad Street and take heart, because
yes Virginia, there IS an alternative to Santa Claus.
– Deb Cooperman
South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, to Saturday, January 22. Friday and
Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
for matinees. Dessert and coffee are included in the $22 to $25.25
ticket price. 609-466-2766.
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