ABET, All Beaches Experimental Theatre, opened its second production of the season, at his new home 544 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach with the classic thriller, Wait Until Dark. This play by Frederick Knott debuted in 1966 and ran for 373 performances. It had star power with Lee Remick in the lead for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Warner Bros-Seven Arts made a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn who won an Academy Award for her role.
This play is an electrifying thriller about a young lady named Susy who is blind due to an auto accident. While in the hospital she meets and marries a freelance photographer Sam (Kyle Reeves) and they live in a small basement apartment. The time is the 1990s.
This nail-biting drama finds three con men intruding into the blind Suzy’s home while Sam is away on a photo assignment. It seems that when in Canada on assignment, Sam accidently brought home a doll which unknown to him is stuffed with high grade heroin and these three bad boys of society want it so badly they would kill to get it.
While Susy is out shopping, the trio of crooks meets in her apartment. Here we met the head of this trio is Harry Roat Jr. In some very interesting casting, Roat is played by a woman, Milan Alley who arrives wearing a long shoulder length wig, shorts and rose colored glasses. Ms. Alley is from Tallahassee, Florida and made her local debut as a singer in one of the major roles in Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea. She also played by two roles dressed as a male in this play and we leave those for your to discover when you see the show. Alley more than captures the psychopathic energy of the villain Mr. Roat.
One of her or his criminals is Mike Talman played by David Girard who is well known for his many outstanding performances on local stages. Mike agrees to visit Susy and pretend that he is an old army buddy of Sam’s and is just passing through the city. He spends his time looking for the doll while talking it up with Susy.
Conman # 2 is Juan Ocharan who pretends to be Sergeant Carlino of the local police department investigating a murder of a woman in the neighborhood. He of course is looking everywhere for the doll. Mr. Ocharan is doing his first non singing role; has been a student in the UNF chorale.
Another character is the young neighborhood girl Gloria, who lives upstairs, who is a good friend to Susy. Nine years old Tatum Matthews is an excellent actress and very entertaining and engaging in this key role involved in dealing with these undesirable thugs. This is Tatum’s first non-musical role, and she has sung in several musicals at Alhambra Theatre and Dining. She has been cast in the upcoming production of Elf at the Alhambra.
Actress Jenna Bourne, in the most demanding role of her acting career, is very convincing as a blind woman. She impressed us with her constant attention to finding her way at home as some who has no sight. Facially she expresses the fear, doubt and desperation that she finds herself in and then expertly turns things around in her favor for a thrilling hold-your-breath finish.
Franklin Ritch makes his directing debut with this show. He has been a performer in 3 musicals on local stages with Into the Woods and Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea and Celebration at ABET. Mr. Ritch also designed the set that is outstanding considering the small amount of space he had to work with and the incredible number of items on it.
The title of the show is Wait Until Dark, and to forewarn you. Yes, you sit in the dark in the 2nd act, with parts of the show being done in with the lights out but it lasts a very short time.
Don’t miss this true classic of theatre that will keep you spellbound. Call for reservations 904-249-7177 or visit www.abettheatre.com
Franklin Ritch (Director), Ramona Ramdeen (Stage Manager), Maureen Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), Laura Young (Properties), Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design) Hunter Steinke (Backstage Crew)