‘Flaming Idiots’ to provide comedic relief to Basile Westfield Playhouse audience


Given what has been going on in the world the past two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Nichols wanted to provide laughs for audiences.

So, he suggested he direct the comedy, “Flaming Idiots,” for Basile Westfield Playhouse.

“I directed this show before and I find it to be very funny,” said Nichols, who lives in the Castleton area of Indianapolis. “It was not in the Indianapolis area previously and I wanted to bring it here. It’s a farce. There’s lots of laughter and lots of craziness. I thought it would be great now as we’re coming on the other side of the pandemic. Whether it’s over or not, I don’t know, but just to have people laugh for a couple of hours, forget about the war in Ukraine and the heaviness of everything else going on, just come in here and laugh.”

Main Street Productions will present “Flaming Idiots” from March 31 to April 10 at Westfield Playhouse. Nichols is making his Main Street Productions debut as a director. He previously was an assistant director for “The Main Who Shot Liberty Valance” in 2019 at Westfield Playhouse.

The “Flaming Idiots” plot centers on two postal workers who want to open a restaurant. They borrow money from a mob associate to open it and realize they know nothing about the restaurant business, and it’s been empty. The owners figure restaurants where there has been a mob hit are always busy, so they stage a fake mob hit.

Ethan Romba plays Phil, one of the owners. The other owner, Carl, is played by Austin Uebelhor.

“It’s been a riot,” Romba said. “It’s a hilariously written story line. The dialogue is really funny. We have a great cast with the right people in each role.”

This is the first show Romba has done in the Indianapolis area since moving from Chicago to Fishers in December 2021.

The last production Romba, 31, was in was a student show at Northwestern University about 11 years ago.

Romba learned about auditions for the show when he attended “Of Mice and Men” at Westfield Playhouse. 

“I feel blessed to get this part,” Romba said. “The biggest challenge is memorizing the lines. I have over 400 lines.”

Noblesville resident Eric Bowman plays a goofy 73-year-old hit man named Louie, who is losing his memory.

At 48, Bowman is playing a character who is quite a bit older.

“I enjoy the role because he has memory issues,” Bowman said. “It relieves a little tension of having to memorize the lines so much because if I forget something, it kind of fits in with the character. I got all the lines pretty well down. I have probably the third-largest role in it after the two main characters.”

Bowman said it’s a fun role to play because he has to walk and talk like he is 25 years older than he actually is.

“I started acting three years ago and haven’t stopped since,” he said. “I’ve been in 27 shows, both acting and production. Right now, I’m doing this show and running sound for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at Duck Creek in Elwood, and then will be acting in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ at the Attic Theatre at Ivy Tech (in Noblesville).

“I’ve always wanted to do something at Westfield Playhouse and I’ve worked with Brian a few times.”

Bowman directed his first play in Shakespeare in the Park, and Nichols played a role.

Bowman said this is his first full comedic role.

“I’ve had roles that had comedic lines,” he said. 

A theater fan, Bowman said he wanted to give acting a try.

“I’m actually a really shy person. My first few auditions I almost passed out on stage to try to do the cold reads,” Bowman said. “I had to sit down because I was lightheaded. I’m getting pretty good with accents. I don’t memorize quickly but I memorize pretty well. I have 130 lines in this one. I had 480 lines in ‘The Mousetrap’ at Duck Creek. Acting lets you be someone else for a short time and bring joy to others.”