Elijah Logue climbs into director’s chair for latest Waterworks show

Published 12:37 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

From his debut six years ago as Anthony Marsden in the Agatha Christie thriller “And Then There Were None” to his most recent appearance as Jack Merriwell in the melodrama “Adrift in New York,” Elijah Logue has become a familiar presence on the Waterworks stage. With “Wiley and the Hairy Man,” Waterworks’ upcoming production, he is taking on a very different role: first-time director.

“‘And Then There Were None’ was my first time in a full-length play. It was fun,” Logue said. “And playing Donkey in the Shrek musical was super fun. But it was my role as Algernon in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ that changed my attitude toward acting. That character was a real challenge; Algernon deceives everyone on stage, and he’s drunk while he’s doing it. I began to take the job of acting more seriously.”

And now, he’ll direct the company’s performance of “Wiley and the Hairy Man” that will debut next month. Logue said he’s been interested in directing for a while.

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“Don (Blaheta, a Waterworks board member) knew that (I was interested), needed a director, and offered me the job,” Logue said. “I read “Wiley” straight through — I couldn’t put it down. Whether you’re an adult, a teenager, or a little kid, there’s something in that play for you: how to be a parent; how to overcome fear; how to be self-reliant.”

“It’s a really funny show,” he continued. “But the script has real depth. The villain, the Hairy Man, is extremely creepy, and the lack of a father figure is a main theme in this play.”

Elijah Logue tries something different 

While this will be his first time directing on the stage, Logue has experience in other venues. 

“I’d already done some directing for a small film company, but stage direction is different,” Logue said. “Feature film directing is quick because there’s a lot of preplanning prior to the shoot. But onstage, we’re learning something different every rehearsal. With a play, you’re ‘in it’ all day — the script, the characters. We’re finding out something new each time.”

How has being an actor informed the way Logue directs? Again, Elijah reframed things slightly.

“I’ve learned a lot from the experience of being directed,” he said. “Several of my past directors, like Zachary Zahand, Scott Chapman, Clint Wright — I’ve gotten something valuable from each one. You’re directing people, not just characters. I know from being an actor how they’d like to be treated, like how they might like to receive notes, for example.”

“Wiley and the Hairy Man” is a departure of sorts for Waterworks; it’s a “kids’ play” during the summer, while still keeping the traditional panto holiday show. 

“I love the pantos,” he said, “but don’t expect “Wiley” to be panto-like. It’s not audience-reactive. It’s more life lesson-ish. There’s no father in this play, and Wiley’s fear is rooted in his father’s disappearance. For Wiley, magic exists; his mother is a conjure-woman. Much of the show is about him overcoming his fear, something I think the audience will share with him.”

‘I’ve grown on that stage’

“In fact, ‘Wiley’ kind of mimics my own experience,” Logue concluded. “I thank God that I was introduced to Waterworks as a seventeen-year-old. I’ve spent a lot of time on that stage. I found my wife on that stage. I’ve grown on that stage. The feeling of warmth and comfort that I feel when I walk through those doors is so refreshing. Waterworks is such an underrated gem of Farmville.”

The cast of “Wiley” is a mix of old and new faces. Logan Schock is Wiley; Leigh Lunsford is his Mammy. John Diamond is the Hairy Man, and Grayson Clabo is Dog. There is also a Chorus that plays an integral part in “Wiley,” choreographed by Kolby Logue. Its members are: Jordan Whiley; Howard Fischer; Gregory Gibbs, Jr.; Anna Stinson; Christy Moore; Teagan McKinney; and Madelyn Schock (Bat).

“Wiley and the Hairy Man” runs Aug. 4 and 11 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. For tickets visit the Waterworks website, waterworksplayers.org/buytickets.

Editor’s note: Craig Challender wrote this article for the Farmville Herald.