From Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — A teenage boy has just stood trial, accused in the switchblade murder of his father inside their New York City apartment building. Is he guilty or innocent? The jury must decide.
For your own seat inside the deliberation room, travel to the sweltering hot summer of 1957 for ACTA’s “12 Angry Men”, acclaimed as live theater’s greatest courthouse drama. The play opens this Thursday Feb 8 and continues through two weekends. Tickets are on sale at acta.booktix.com
Director Dan O’Rourke has been at work for more than a year, designing the set, researching every aspect of the story, choosing supporting music, and attending shows both at ACTA and other local theaters, searching for just the right combination of actors to play the twelve very distinct characters on the jury panel. “I think this will be the most powerful night of theater ACTA has ever offered”, O’Rourke says. “ACTA deserves its reputation for excellent musicals, comedies and children’s productions. Occasionally we stage a serious drama, and 12 Angry Men is such an important and thought-provoking story that our audience will never forget it.”
The play, based on the Oscar-nominated 1957 movie starring Henry Fonda, explores both the strengths and flaws in our justice system. It’s about race and social class, and about how people express their opinions to each other. The story is just as relevant today as it was almost 70 years ago. O’Rourke says that in fact, writer Reginald Rose could not have predicted that his script was a forecast for social media today.
“Here we have twelve strangers entering what amounts to a chat room, and every one of them thinks his own opinion is right while everybody else needs to change their mind. It’s a 1950s version of Facebook.”
O’Rourke also believes the story challenges us to think about how we value the lives of strangers. “Most of the jurors have other things going on that are more important to them than whether a teenager is sent to the electric chair. One has tickets to a baseball game, another wants to get home to a sick child. What does it take for them, or us, to set our own interests aside and care about what’s happening in someone else’s life?”
This powerhouse ensemble cast stars Matt McGough Blake Echols, Curtis Frost, Shawn Reese, Peter Bradberry, Zach Skaggs, Josh McDaniel, Howard Green, Jon McClaran, Bill Bright, Michael Bridges, Brian Allison, Scott Duncan and David Born. Kathryn Gilmer is assistant director.
Due to audience interest, ACTA is adding two Thursday dates for a total of eight performances. Get your tickets now at acta.booktix.com