Neil Simon’s ‘Fools’ coming to CU

CEDARVILLE — Cedarville University’s theatre department presents “Fools,” by Neil Simon, opening Thursday, Oct. 4, in the DeVries Theatre at the Stevens Student Center.

The story follows newly employed Leon Tolchinsky, who has taken a job as a teacher in a beautiful Ukrainian village. When he arrives, he is startled to find that the town has been cursed with chronic stupidity for 200 years. Tolchinsky must find a way to break the curse and also win the heart of a girl so stupid that she has only recently learned how to sit down. “Fools” is a colorful, light-hearted comedy that children and adults can enjoy.

Neil Simon, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Broadway legend, died Aug. 26 after battling pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease. Simon authored several Broadway shows, including “Barefoot in the Park,” (1963) and “The Odd Couple” (1965). Simon also worked on several television shows and movie scripts, earning four Oscar screenplay nominations in his career. “Fools” premiered on Broadway in 1980 and was later adapted into two musicals: one in 1984 and another in 1990.

Dr. Diane Conrad Merchant, who was recently recognized for her direction of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in 2017, will direct “Fools.”

“This is the first Simon play that I have directed, but the timing could not be more fortuitous,” Merchant said. “I enjoy Neil Simon’s comedies because they are intellectual. This play has profound thoughts about what is really important and how your intellect is not based on what other people say about you.”

Gisela Beasley, 2016 Cedarville graduate, will design the set for “Fools.” Beasley has previously designed for two Cedarville University productions: “The Diary of Anne Frank” in fall 2017, and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in spring 2018.

Rob Rasmusen, 2007 Cedarville graduate and adjunct professor, will design the lighting. Rebekah Priebe, assistant professor of theatre in her third year at Cedarville, will design the costumes and makeup.

“This show is such a joy to be a part of,” said Jeremy Smith, senior theatre performance major from Cedarville, who performs as Leon. “I get to watch my friends do the most ridiculous things and have to maintain a straight face while playing opposite them. People will appreciate this show as an opportunity to just laugh and forget about any stresses they may have for a couple short hours.”

Added sophomore theatre performance major Beth Oldham who plays Sylvia: “This is my first show with Cedarville University thus far, and I can’t even begin to express the true joy of being a part of this cast.”

“I have learned so much already,” Oldham, from Kenton, said. “I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this show and beyond.”

The play will run through Sunday, Oct. 14. Tickets can be purchased at