The cast and crew of Rye Neck High School’s fall play face the challenge of living up to a classic.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
The cast and crew of Rye Neck High School’s fall play face the challenge of living up to a classic. People of a certain age remember “Twelve Angry Men,” the engrossing 1957 Sidney Lumet movie, based on the Reginald Rose teleplay, starring the legendary Henry Fonda. Rye Neck Theater Director Scott Harris is convinced his students are up to the task. The curtain will rise on the courtroom drama at the Rye Neck Performing Arts Center on October 22 and 23 at 7:30.
“Like most people, I saw the movie when I was a kid,” said Harris. “Then, in 2005, I saw the Broadway production and I was riveted. The tension between the jurors and the intricacies of the case all exploded off the stage.”
At first glance “Twelve Angry Men” is a simple play. There’s one set, no costume changes, and no guest characters. As Harris points out, it’s quite the contrary, as the drama unfolds before the audience in real time. Moreover, it’s extraordinarily timely as the defendant is a minority member who is unfairly judged. No doubt, the compelling ensemble piece is a formidable acting exercise as well.
“The students have to do the work to make the performance come alive,” said Scott, who also teaches acting, musical, technical theater, and public speaking classes. “The more they know their character, the more lifelike they’ll be on stage, and the more interesting for the audience.”
Harris held auditions for grades 9-12 the first two days of school. Notwithstanding the title, both males and females were cast. As a matter of fact, the part of juror #8, Fonda’s part, went to junior Kiara O’Day.
“She has such an everyman quality to her that she was the perfect choice,” said Harris.
The student-driven production has a cast and crew of 32. Juniors play a big role: Assistant Director Emily Crook helped with casting and now directing; Jillian Hurlburt has been running the business side as stage manager; and Matt Collado is responsible for sound.
Besides O’Day, the cast includes: Vicky Skaf, Rachel Rubin, Michael Miranda, Philip Beebe, Bennett Taylor, Tessa McSweeney, Jessica Giordano, Erin Drace, Noah Caplan, Dina Daas, Hunter Greenhill, Sean McCaffery, and Kristina Dignelli.
Harris was also pleased to announce the debut of the Performing Arts Center’s new red stage curtain, a donation by the PTSA, and new wireless body microphones funded by the Booster Club.
“Every parent in the audience will hear their child’s voice,” he noted. “And with our play, all the students will get their moment to shine.”
General admission tickets will be available at the door for $10, $5 for students.