The more Hatrix the merrier. While one arm of the local theatre company is blowing your mind with “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Moose Hall, the other arm is doing something a little different — a drama, “12 Angry Jurors” — which is a departure from the cornucopia of comedies, farces and musicals usually happening in Lethbridge. It takes place at the Nord Bridge Seniors Centre, Nov. 15-18.
“It’s an older script by Reginald Rose, which is totally still relevant today,” observed director Karolyn Harker.
In addition to being the timeless story of 12 people from different socio-economic backgrounds, who must decide on the guilt or innocent of a boy accused of stabbing his father to death, the larger cast gives more people an opportunity to be involved with Hatrix.
“It takes place in a larger city, which we’ve decided is Chicago. The 12 jurors come from different societal backgrounds and cultural backgrounds and they must decide on the fate of a young man accused of murdering his father, but the characters reveal their prejudices and backgrounds and their anger,” Harker described, noting the dialogue heavy production means all of the actors are on the stage for the whole show.
As the audience never sees the actual trial, the jurors present the evidence.
Some people might know the play from the 1957 movie “12 Angry Men” starring Oscar award winners Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam and Ed Begley, though most of the cast had not seen the film, preferring to create their own back stories for their characters, as the dialogue leaves a lot of room for character development. The audience doesn’t even learn their names or the names of the victim or perpetrator, which is all left up to their imaginations.
“It was a teleplay first and then turned into a movie. It reminds me of Thornton Wilder, who is my favourite playwright,” Harker said.
The play shares some of the dialogue of the movie, but has also been turned into a co-ed production.
The production features some familiar faces from Hatrix Theatre’s Fall 2016 production of “The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays,” including Carrie-Ann Worden who plays Juror Number four, stepping in after a couple previous Juror number fours were unable to participate due to family issues.
“I always love working with Karolyn. I was six months pregnant during ‘The Game’s Afoot,’” Worden observed, adding she is enjoying playing number four.
“She seeks organization and solutions. She’s super calm.
“She’s not amused by it, but she’s curious and she acts as a mediator for a lot of the jurors,” Worden said.
The cast includes several familiar faces to Hatrix Theatre fans including Kirk Boehmer and Vittorio Oliverio, who were also in “The Game’s Afoot,” Jeff Graham, Shelly David, who has been doing double duty as she was also in Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of The Savannah Sipping Society, and newcomers including Brad Pacer, Vicki Gibson, Elise ???, long-standing Hatrix member Clive Abbott who hasn’t been in a Hatrix show for a while, his wife Olga and Richard Amery. Newcomer Lisa Gearing is doing double duty as stage manager as well as the guard.
“It’s been a lot of fun getting to play off the rest of the cast. That‘s the best part of it is playing off an excellent cast,” Worden continued.
Vittorio Oliverio was also part of “The Game’s Afoot” and is pleased to be able to play the complete opposite to Felix, his character in “The Game’s Afoot.”
“He liked the ladies. This guy doesn’t really like anybody, he’s a bully,” Oliverio said, noting he gave his character a complete back story.
“He works in a restaurant. He’s a difficult person. It’s hard for him to admit when he‘s wrong,” continued Olivierio, who was also part of Shakespeare in the Park’s summer production of “A Comedy of Errors.”
“He’s like the cowardly lion in Wizard of Oz, except he backs down when anybody confronts him,” he said.
He was drawn to this play because he liked the idea of being in a drama.
“It‘s something really different for Lethbridge where usually people do musicals and comedies,” he continued.
“It’s intense and very close. The audience is really part of this,” he said.
Allan Gibson, who was in Playgoers of Lethbridge’s production of “The Odd Couple,” back in 2013, was also drawn to this play because it was a drama.
“I’ve done a lot of amateur theatre and it’s always been farces and comedies. So the idea of being in a drama really appealed to me, said Gibson, who is Juror number 7.
“I haven’t quite figured out who he is yet, though I know his motivations,” he said, adding he has enjoyed working with the cast.
“It’s a very varied cast,” Gibson said, echoing the show is very intense.
“It’s almost claustrophobic,” he said.
“12 Angry Jurors” runs Nov. 15-18 at 7 p.m. each night plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets are $15 in advance from Blueprint and $20 at the door.