Curtain Call: Stage Combat

Curtain Call: Stage Combat


Director Katie Dooley rehearses actors Eric Lutz and David Giordano. (Photo courtesy of Little Theatre)

Stage Combat

Little Theatre’s 90th season continues with military drama
 
Well-known for its star-studded 1992 film adaptation directed by Rob Reiner, Aaron Sorkin’s 1989 play A Few Good Men is set in a courtroom rather than on the battlefield. Based on a real hazing assault (although the wounded victim did not die) at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base fictionalized for dramatic purposes, the story finds “military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.” A new production opening Saturday at The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre is the dramatic center of the community theatre company’s 90th anniversary season.
 
Freshly appointed General Manager, Walter Mitchell, is a third generation member of his family to serve as a volunteer at Little Theatre.
 
“It’s a thrill to guide an organization that can say it’s been producing theatre for 90 consecutive seasons,” he told ec and dc. That longevity is an indication of the solid corps of volunteers who have stuck it out through periodic financial shortfalls, the replacement of 80-year-old seats, a modernization of the lobby, and most recently, decreased financial support in the recession.
 
A Few Good Men isn’t taken on often, he pointed out, because of the large number of male actors required. That being said, there’s not a weak part in the show. Good parts generally promise a good audition turn-out and A Few Good Men features some of the region’s strongest actors. The biggest trial has been in costuming all of them. The United States Marine Corps does not allow non-Marines to wear its official uniforms, yet the production naturally strives to make its military cast credible to audience members, who like Mitchell, have served in the armed forces.
 
Playing A Few Good Men’s only female, Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway (Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Navy), Kimmie Wraizen came on board with no military experience. Learning the mannerisms and discipline of her character, the distinctions between Marine and Navy behavior, and the different forms of saluting has been an interesting challenge, she confirmed.
 
“Jo is an antagonist,” she offered. “She’s like a chihuahua who thinks she’s a pit bull, but really she’s more like a doberman. Her role in Internal Affairs …puts everybody on guard. One soldier calls her Ebenzeer Galloway because she made people work on Christmas.”
Those who’ve seen the film will find the play’s lines and scenes familiar, Wraizen said, but there are notable differences.
 
“There’s a different intensity on stage. It’s a drama and there are compelling factors, but there is also a lot of comedy.”
 
Also planned this season are productions of The Music Man March 16-24 and Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park May 11-19. A gala year-end anniversary celebration is in the planning stages.
 
“Anybody involved this year feels an added sense of devotion, excitement, and pride because, to be grammatically incorrect, this don’t happen very often,” Mitchell said.
 
A Few Good Men opens Saturday, Jan. 12 and continues through Jan. 20 with shows Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 with a discount ($3) to active or retired military personnel with valid ID. Call 823-1875 for reservations or visit www.ltwb.org for more information.
 

Eric Lutz and David Giordano rehearse for A Few Good Men.