Beef & Boards actors bring chemistry to ‘Grumpy Old Men’


Longtime friends Eddie Curry and Jeff Stockberger have built a strong stage chemistry through the years.

The Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre regulars appear in “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical” Aug. 24 to Oct. 1 at the Indianapolis venue. Curry plays John and Stockberger plays Max, who have been feuding for years in Wabasha, Minn.

“It’s scary, actually,” Curry said of the chemistry. “We communicate with a mere look and know what the other is thinking. We work off each other well, on and off stage. We read each other. We know when and when not to push, or when or when not to pull, that sort of thing. I always feel on my game when working with Jeff.”

Stockberger said there is no one he trusts more on stage than Curry.

“We weirdly share a brain when it comes to most things, but especially when we are performing together,” he said. “I always know he has my back on stage and will continue the momentum of the show when we take turns performing in scenes.”

Stockberger and Curry met in the summer of 1989 working at Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals.

“We spent two summers in Galveston, then by the mid-1990s we were working together at Beef & Boards and have never really stopped since,” Stockberger said.

The musical is based on the 1993 movie, “Grumpy Old Men,” featuring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Stockberger said he and Curry weren’t very familiar with the show, so they went on a few road trips to see other productions.

“It helped us discover how we wanted to play these roles and the general tone we wanted to set for the show,” Stockberger said.

Stockberger said the cast includes other longtime friends, including Beef & Boards owner Doug Stark

“Eddie, Ty Stover, Doug Stark and I have known each other for decades, but I believe this will be the first time the four of us will be singing a song together in a show,” Stockberger said. “That’s going to be a blast.”

Curry said when seeing other productions, they could see cast chemistry is important to how the show plays to its audience.

ND BEEF BOARDS 0822 Hund head shot

“The cast that we have put together for this show has that chemistry in buckets,” Curry said. “This is going to be a really fun ride.”

Sarah Hund plays the neighbor, Ariel, who both men are interested in romantically.

“I love Ariel because she sees the positive side of every situation,” Hund said. “She is a free spirit who finds joy and possibility in everyone she meets, and she never hesitates to encourage others in the direction of their dreams. On top of that, she is perceptive, intuitive and well-educated. And she knows how to have a good time.”

Hund has performed in several shows with Curry and Stockberger.

“We’ve had several different working relationships, as fellow actors, stage managers and actors, directors and actors, and so on,” she said. “After working together on so many projects, we understand the rhythm and science of each other’s comedy styles. At this point, we’ve developed a shared language, shortcuts to communicating that make our jobs infinitely easier. It’s always a pleasure to create characters and tell stories with people you like and admire so much.”

Hund said the “hardest part of being on stage with Jeff Stockburger is keeping a straight face when he’s up to his hilarious antics. But I am always up for the challenge.”

Curry said his character is one of a series of father characters he has had fun playing the last couple of seasons.

“Each one (is) more flawed than the other, yet each one finds his way to some kind of redemption, or at least redeemable act by the end,” Current said. “John Gustafson, played by Jack Lemmon in the movie, is a great guy, loved by all, except by that one moron that lives across the street. In my case, he sits across the dressing room. The most fun thing for me is going to be sharing this show and the insults with my moron friend, Jeff Stockberger.”

The challenge for Stockberger is to take his character, Max, who could be easily unlikeable, and have people identify with him.

“Max is a good guy,” Stockberger said. “He’s just let his grudge with John add unnecessary negativity to his life. There are a lot of good opportunities for laughs and quite emotional moments with this character that will be fun to explore.”

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