Herbbits, Wizards, Borks and more return to the Pocket Sandwich Theatre stage in its latest fantasy-inspired melodrama

Behind the scenes of Pocket Sandwich Theatre’s “Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks…Oh My!” with playwright Nick Haley and stars Jared Seman and Caitlin Whitley.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre "Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks...Oh My!"
From left-to-right: Sarah Perkins, Caitlin Whitley, D. Aiden Wright, McKenna Curtis and Lauren Hearn in “Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks…Oh My!” – Pictures by Joel Hashop

Back in 2014, Nick Haley’s fantasy spoof “Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks…Oh My!” made its debut on the Pocket Sandwich Theatre stage. In the theater’s classic melodrama style, the show invited audiences on a popcorn-throwing adventure as they followed Fido the Herbbit’s often comedic quest to destroy the Sable Impetus before the nefarious Dark Lord can get his hands on it.

A “Lord of the Rings” fan since middle school, Haley called the show a “labor of love.” Of course, that labor came with its share of nerves as the playwright wondered if his show had “legs” or not. Audiences quickly answered those concerns when “Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks…Oh My!” received an extended first run due to popular demand, followed later by a remounting with a majority of the original cast returning for a second run.

Now, a decade since Pocket Sandwich Theatre audiences first visited the fiery Butte of Doom, “Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks…Oh My!” returns to the stage for a third run through August 24.

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“It’s gonna be a big endeavor, but it’s time,” Haley said of bringing the production back, recalling how “a lot of people were asking if we can do ‘Herbbits’ again this year.” “It’s the first time in the new (Pocket Sandwich Theatre) space, so it’s exciting.”

According to Haley, the 2024 Michael Speck-directed production includes new cast and crew members as well as some updated jokes.

Among the new cast is Jared Seman as Dumbledalf, the show’s Gandalf-inspired character. It’s a role that Seman, an experienced Pocket Sandwich Theatre actor, writer and director, jumped at the opportunity to audition for. “This is probably my favorite Pocket script. I was in an early reading of it and since then, kind of fell in love with it.” Seman said, adding that he’s eagerly awaited the opportunity to join the production.

Pocket Sandwich Theatre "Herbbits, Wizards, and Borks...Oh My!"
A look at Jared Seman as Dumbledalf

Caitlin Whitley, who plays Fido’s sidekick, Simon, modeled after Samwise Gamgee, similarly recalled her enthusiasm for the production prior to joining the cast. A newcomer to the Pocket Sandwich Theatre stage who’s recently performed in productions like Runway Theatre’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” Whitley has seen shows at Pocket Sandwich for more than a decade, including the second run of “Herbbits.” She’s also known Haley for many years, dating back to before “Herbbits” first opened.

“I remember when Nick was writing this, so it does feel kind of full circle to be in it,” Whitley said. Her longtime love of “Lord of the Rings” combined with her friendships with Haley and Speck led her to “join the Pocket family” for this production.

That familiarity with the production team and the melodrama style from watching past shows also helps Whitley feel more comfortable in her first show with Pocket Sandwich Theatre. “It’s slightly intimidating to be around the folks who have done this so much, but it’s also very rewarding because you’re getting to learn with the best,” Whitley said, describing it as “jumping into a pool of people that aren’t gonna let you fail” and singling out scene partner Sarah Perkins, who stars as Fido, for making her job onstage “so much easier.”

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Seman said Whitley has taken to the theater like a “fish to water.” As a playwright himself and someone uniquely familiar with the “Herbbits” script, he enjoys seeing the fresh takes a new cast provides on different lines and deliveries in a show. “What really sells it is the actors being in the moment…and coming up with little reactions or a different take on a line that you didn’t intend. It’s always the thing that surprises you that really sells the scene,” Seman said, noting how he’s worked to differentiate his performance as Dumbledalf from those in the original two runs.

Haley says all audiences can enjoy his script, even those who might need a Middle-Earth history lesson. Fido’s journey includes plenty of comedy alongside sword-swinging action and several heartfelt moments spread throughout the adventure. “I don’t think any particular fandom knowledge is required to actually sit down and enjoy the journey from beginning to end,” Haley said, calling it his “ultimate goal” for audiences to “leave feeling better than when (they) came in.”

“Herbbits, Wizards and Borks…Oh My!” runs through August 24 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, visit https://www.pocketsandwich.com/.

These interviews have been edited for clarity.


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