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December 2, 2022

Limelight opens season with ‘The Outsider’

Politics these days are an ever-enlarging pit of divisiveness, but Limelight’s season-opening political comedy focuses on something everyone can get behind: laughter. 

“The Outsider,” performed by Limelight presented by South Valley Civic Theatre, runs select days from Aug. 26-Sept. 17 at the Gilroy Center for the Arts, 7341 Monterey St.

The play follows reluctant gubernatorial candidate Ned Newley, a terrible public speaker with abysmal poll numbers. But his political consultant sees Newley as the person the public just might be looking for.

Director JoAnna Evans said “The Outsider” is a witty commentary on today’s political climate.

“It’s sharp, it’s funny, it has something valid to say about politics currently,” she said. “The political thought is we need somebody who is a Washington outsider in order to do better. The play explores whether we really need an outsider, or do we need somebody who is people-oriented who knows how to get things done.”

Peter Mandel portrays Newley, and said the character has strong values who believes in the government, but struggles to convey that to the public.

“To me, he is the hero of the story,” he said. “He is incredibly shy and not a natural politician at all. That tension makes performing the character fascinating.”

Mandel, who serves as executive director for Limelight, said the group wanted to schedule a show to make audiences laugh.

“This is pure comedy,” he said. “This is a laugh out loud good time. I think everybody is in the mood for that right now.”

Evans, a veteran of local theater, directing and performing in everything from giant musicals to short plays, said the small, intimate nature of the Limelight show, with only seven performers, takes a different mindset for everyone involved.

That won’t be a problem for the experienced cast who hail from around the Bay Area.

“You have to pull back,” she said. “We’re only inches away from the actors. At the big playhouse in Morgan Hill, gestures have to be bigger, you have to worry about volume. Here, you’ve got to be careful about sight lines, about volumes, not overacting.”

For information and tickets, visit

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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