A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW: TWELVE ANGRY MEN AT THEATRE JACKSONVILLE
Theatre Jacksonville launched its 100th Season on September 13, 2019 with a winner when they chose Twelve Angry Men for their annual Classic in San Marco series. The production runs through September 29, 2019; the program provides extensive background information. Theatre Jacksonville is located at 2032 San Marco Boulevard, in Jacksonville, Florida. Visit theatrejax.com for additional information or call 904-396-4425 for reservations.
Note: Mark your calendar now: The 100th Season Celebration is scheduled for March 22, 2020. Details will be provided at a later date.
This courtroom drama by Reginald Rose began as a CBS teleplay in 1954, made its way to the silver screen in a film directed by Sidney Lumet in 1957, and opened on Broadway in 2004 in an adaptation by Sherman Sergel. Although the plot could be a story from today’s headlines, the play is set in a jury show in 1959 and is very much a period piece. You will immediately notice that the twelve jurors are wearing suits and white shirts. And they’re all male.
The play begins with stern instructions from the judge (Mark Wright) advising the jurors of their responsibilities, they are then led to their seats by the guard (Audie Gibson). The unnamed jurors are identified only by number. After all are seated, the guard turns the meeting over to the Foreman/Juror 1, portrayed by Theatre Jax veteran actor David Gile.
The case is that of a sixteen-year old boy accused of stabbing his abusive father to death. As per the judge’s instructions, the twelve men must decide whether the accused is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” or “not guilty.” If the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, a mistrial will be declared. And a verdict of guilty means a mandatory death sentence.
While it seems as though arriving at a unanimous verdict would be an easy task – the trial included eyewitness testimony – Juror 8 (Tyler Patton) has reasonable doubts which he presents in compelling fashion. His reluctance leads to heated discussions and additional reviews of the evidence.
The personalities, strengths, and preconceptions of the jurors are revealed as deliberations continue. Juror 2 (Christopher Rocanelli) is one of the youngest and somewhat shy.
Juror 3 (David H. Mathews) has strong opinions and a bullying manner, forcing others to agree with him. Matthews is making his TJ debut in the role and brings an impressive resume which includes professional theatre.
Juror 4 (Larry Fairall) has one of the larger roles, he is portrayed as wealthy and well-dressed; skilled at taking charge of situations.
Juror 5 (Mathew Turnage) is young serious, somewhat naïve and afraid to speak up at times. He has grown up living in slums and has an understanding of issues lacking in his fellow jurors. Turnage is a senior at UNF and a member of UNF’s Musical Theatre Club.
Juror 6 (Jeff Glauser) is a nice fellow, but takes his time making decisions. Glauser, who is making his TJ debut, is returning to the stage after an absence of over twenty years, when he was involved in theatre at Jacksonville University.
Juror 7 (Jonathan O’Leary) is loud, opinioned, and impatient. O’Leary, who recently moved here from New York, is making his Florida debut in the role. His past theatrical experience includes acting, directing, managing and teaching.
Juror 9 (Robert Gerard) is an old man, mild in manner, who listens respectfully to the concerns of Juror 8. Gerard, who is making his debut at TJ, has been very active in theatre in Baker County as a director and actor. His wife Kelly Norman and daughter Sara Beth Gerard are well known actresses on the TJ’s stage.
Juror 10 (Kenny Logsdon) is an angry man who hates everyone but himself and thinks the case for conviction is clear. Logsdon has appeared in many productions on our local stages.
Juror 11 (Bill Ratliff) is a refugee from Europe who speaks with an accent. He is timid but wants a just verdict. His comments include bits of humor at times. Ratcliff, well-known throughout the theatrical community, was a latecomer to the cast, accepting the role after a cast dropout.
Juror 12 (Myles Hughes) is involved in marketing and bright, but understands data better than people. Hughes has previously appeared in several local plays, which have included TJ’s The Mousetrap and The Melville Boys.
Gloria Ware makes her TJ directing debut with this superb drama. She has an extensive theatrical background, which includes a BFA in theatre followed by work with multiple theatres throughout the country. Shortly after settling in Jacksonville, she accepted a role in TJ’s production of Hilda’s Yard, and has since assumed a very active role in theatrical education, performance and governance. She holds the rare distinction of having won two Pelican Awards as Best Actress in the same season at Players by the Sea, where she appeared as Mama in Memphis and Lady Bird Johnson in All The Way.
The courtroom setting was created by Tim Watson, Technical Director and Scenic and Lighting Designer. He built the long table used by the jurors, which is up for auction; TJ members are already bidding on it.
The Production Team included Sarah Boone (Executive Director), Gloria Ware (Director), Tim Watson,(Technical Director), Sally Pettegrew (Costumer), Lauren Copeland (Assistant Technical Director), Michelle Kindy (Production Manager), Kayla Chouinard (Stage Manager), Gabrielle Cordova (Assistant Stage Manager), Izabella Unice (Light Board Operator), and Nancy Wilson (Sound Board Operator).
Twelve Angry Men is as relevant today as it was when it debuted. The talented cast is superb due to the fine casting and direction of Gloria Ware. In view of the today’s politics and discussion of criminal justice and the death penalty, it’s a show you’ll want to see.