What: The Fort Wayne Civic Theatre presents the play “A Few Good Men,” a tale of two U.S. Marines blamed for the death of another Marine. The play contains occasional strong adult language.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and Sept. 14-15, and 2 p.m. Sunday and Sept. 16
Where: Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.
Cost: $24, adults; $16, ages 23 and under; $20, ages 60 and older Sunday matinees only; military/veterans discount available. For more information or to buy tickets, call the Civic Theatre box office at 424-5220 or buy at www.fwcivic.org.
Note: Immediately following Saturday's performance, the Civic Theatre Guild will host an opening night party in the Ian Rolland Gallery. Admission is $2.
The play “A Few Good Men,” which premieres Saturday and runs through Sept. 16 at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, is just as relevant and engaging today as it was when it was first produced on Broadway nearly 25 years ago.
Along with 'God of Carnage,” which opens with a preview performance tonight at First Presbyterian Theater, the plays lead off a busy 2012-2113 season of stage, dance, music and other arts events in Fort Wayne.
“A Few Good Men” was written by Aaron Sorkin, creator of the television shows “The West Wing” and HBO's “The Newsroom” and the film “The Social Network.” It tells the story of two U.S. Marines (Pfc. Louden Downey and Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson), who are being court-martialed for the murder of a fellow Marine.
Lt. j.g. Daniel Kaffee, an inexperienced U.S. Navy lawyer, reluctantly takes their case and discovers his clients' strict devotion to the Marine Corps' code of honor and following of orders may cost them their freedom.
With the assistance of Lt. Comdr. Joanne Galloway, a Naval investigator and lawyer, Kaffee ends up discovering his own voice as a trial lawyer, which enables him to defend his clients through his own self-doubt and a military culture that repels him.
“This play is a coming-of-age story of a young lawyer as he wrestles with the issues of personal destiny, accepting responsibility for others, and the nature of national defense,” the play's director, Ranae Butler, said in an email interview. “It is truly an American story.”
While the play is very well-known, audiences may be more familiar with hit 1992 film version starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson. Cruise and Nicholson in particular give two unforgettable performances as Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Col. Nathan R. Jessup, respectively.
With such dynamic performances associated with the film version, Butler says that, while she was influenced by the movie, the play will be a different experience.
“I have not tried to recreate the film in any way,” Butler said. “In fact, the entire production team has been intentional in not trying to put the film on stage.
“This is a very 'theatrical' theater production, and the audience should know from the moment they enter the theater that they are not watching a live performance of the film.”
Butler says she is also thrilled to have a lot of established as well as newer local talent to make up the cast of this play. Some cast members have never appeared on stage before, which Butler welcomes.
“I find it really exciting to work with new actors because they do not have any preconceived notions about what they should or should not be doing,” Butler said.
“I have enormous respect for an adult willing to put themselves out there and try something new,” she said. “We have three people in this play who have not appeared in a play before.”
Some of the familiar local names include Andrew Gingrich, Ken Low, David Sorg, James DelPriore, Miranda Wheeler, as well as newer performers, including Adam King, Terrance Cassell, Joel Grillo, Cody Strack, Nol Beckley and Joseph Smith.
“Bob Ahlersmeyer is playing the role of Daniel Kaffee,” Butler noted.
“Ennis Brown and Prentis Moore are making their first appearances in dramatic roles, and Cortney White hasn't been onstage in a straight play for several years.”
“I choose all actors in the same way; I look for people who are directable and have the ability to live honestly in the imaginary circumstances,” Butler said. “I hesitate to single out any of the actors, as I think so highly of all of them and each contributes so mightily to the production.”
Butler feels that, though this play is distinctively American, it's message is universal and she hopes that audience members play an active role and judge for themselves the issues at hand.
“I want the audience to be able to follow the story clearly and be able to explore the questions the play raises,” Butler said. “I want them to be the judge.”
“This is such an 'American' play,” she added. “It explores issues of truth, national defense, personal responsibility and responsibility to others, independence and loyalty. These issues resonate with all of us — so this is a play for all of us.”