Review: The Outsider at Chautauqua Playhouse

Can a politician who’s bad at politics still succeed?

Can a politician who’s bad at politics still succeed?

Photo courtesy of Chautauqua Playhouse

Showtimes: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm; Through 11/17; $21-$23; Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Rd., Carmichael, (916) 489-7529,
Rated 5.0

At a time and in a place where a questionable real estate developer and reality television host can become president, it seems preposterous to think that a man who knows politics could succeed.

It is preposterous, but that’s what happens in The Outsider, a political satire now at Chautauqua Playhouse.

Nervous Ned Newley (Michael Coleman playing awkward in the spotlight) is the unlikely guy who rises from lieutenant governor to the big office after a sex scandal involving his boss. It turns out that Newley was the wonky guy who was running things while the governor of this unnamed state was chasing beauty contestants.

Only Newley’s chief of staff, Dave Riley (the excellent Skyler King), has hopes his boss can do the job. Riley hires pollster Paige Caldwell (Nanette Michael Rice, who has been so good in so many Chautauqua productions) to determine the public’s opinion of the new governor and what to do about it.

When Arthur Vance (an uncharacteristically smarmy Warren Harrison), a nationally known political adviser, joins the team, the farce is fully with us. There’s a ditzy secretary-cum-candidate (Celia Green, a real find), a television journalist (Jenny Connors) and her cameraman (Wesley Foreman), a man of few—but important—words.