12 ANGRY JURORS(Based on the play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose)
Adapted by: Sherman L. Sergel
Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players
Director – Tim Herndon
Assistant Director—Mindy Wilborn
Set Design—Tim Herndon
Sound Design—Mik Brown
Lighting Design—Michelle Holcomb
Juror 2—Christina Lain
Juror 3—Michael Lain
Juror 4—Charlie Hodges
Juror 5—Aubrey Ward
Juror 6—Jeff Hackworth
Juror 7—Tiffany Patch
Juror 8—Jason Calahan
Juror 9—Emily Rollen
Juror 10—Kathleen Powderly
Juror 11—Amy Sorter
Juror 12—Abigail Seward
Voice of Judge—Bud Gillett
Reviewed Performance: 9/18/2022
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Originally presented as a teleplay in 1954 for the anthology television series, “CBS Studio One,” (starring Norman Fell in an early role). It has since been adapted for the screen three times, first in 1957, directed by Sidney Lumet, (with Martin Balsam-perhaps better known as Arbogast in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film “Psycho”), then, in 1997, and 2007. “12 Angry Jurors” has existed in the world of classic American Drama for many years and many adaptations-and continues to carry great relevance to our society today.
Director Tim Herndon brought together a small, but talented ensemble. From the moment the production began, I was drawn into this world of legal jargon (‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ and ‘preponderance of the evidence) and was pulled into the world of a juror’s deliberation room, and the decision of the fate of a young man who was accused of murdering his father. While no Juror was identifiable with a proper name (as common in the legal world), each member of the ensemble brought interesting character traits and personalities to the small deliberation room, and I am confident that this is under the directorial guidance of Herndon. Herndon’s overall concept for the production was simple and straightforward. Herndon was also able to incorporate these two elements into the scenic design as well.
The scenic design was very modest. The stage at the Cleburne Conference Center was transformed into a quite simple, yet effectively used jury deliberation room. I was impressed by the little details that Herndon used to dress the stage. On stage left and stage right, two doors are entrances from the backstage area to the house. Both of these doors had signs on them- “COURTROOM” and “RESTROOM,” which I thought were genius ways to utilize a part of the facility. Both doors were used appropriately throughout the production and provided a nice added touch of detail when otherwise these two doors would just serve as egresses to the backstage area.
Also on the stage, was a small, but subtle nod to our legal system (a framed copy of The Preamble) and other small items that helped to establish the location. A water cooler, a window, and several chairs framed the stage on the left and right, as an area for retreat when deliberations and discussions got heated at the main juror table. While the scenic designs were very uncomplicated, they served the purpose that was necessary for this production. Especially in a production where the dialogue is paramount. The scenic designs never distracted from the dialogue or the action/interaction between each character.
Overall, I thought that Herndon did a fantastic job of staging, and created some strong, and symbolic stage pictures. It is evident that Herndon worked with the cast and lead them to create some fantastic backstories that fueled their interactions and reactions to each other.
In keeping with the overall simplicity of what was seen on stage with the scenic design, lighting (designed by Michelle Holcomb), and costumes (designed by Jason Calahan) were also very modest. The lighting was dramatic (simple spotlights) and complimented some of the more serious discussions throughout the story. Costumes projected a very business-like and professional image. It was enjoyable to see the costumes depict the “inner” personality of each character while remaining simple and effective for the setting and the story.
Charlie Hodges was phenomenal in the role of Juror 4. It was a pleasure to see local radio legend, Hodges, in such a strong and believable role. Mr. Hodges worked for many years at the Texas State Radio Network, and KRLD-1080 AM in Dallas and has the best voice for a theatrical production! While I have never met Mr. Hodges personally, we worked simultaneously for a time at CBS Radio-Dallas, and it was a great honor to see him take the stage. Through convincing facial expressions, a commanding stage presence, and seeing a full transformation of his opinion from “guilty” to “not guilty,” Hodges brought a wonderful sense of level-headedness to the story and provided a sense of conscience as the decisions of the jury unfolded and changed.
Michael Lain was fantastic in the role of Juror 3, the Alpha character, and the bully. Lain brought some wonderfully intense moments to the story. As the lone hold-out on the jury, voting “guilty,” with each round of voting, Lain brought a strong stage presence and a commanding voice to his role. I enjoyed seeing the transformation of the ensemble around him, slowly changing their minds from “guilty” to “not guilty,” and slowly pushing Juror 3 to change his mind in the last few seconds of the story. Lain did a wonderful job of staying true to his characters’ beliefs up until the very end. I could tell that there was a strong sense of back story and subtext that Lain had created to help portray his character from beginning to end.
Jason Calahan was very believable in the protagonist role of Juror 8, the juror who implores his fellow jurors to look beyond the circumstantial evidence and to look at the story from a different perspective. Calahan’s motives as Juror 8 are never fully established, but it is evident that Calahan took the time to use the subtext as motivation for his character’s goals. I enjoyed watching the satisfaction as Juror 8 slowly transforms the thinking of each Juror, and examined the evidence and crime with a different point of view rather than quickly condemn a young man beyond a reasonable doubt.
One other gem was the voice of the (unseen) Judge, voiced by Bud Gillett, another local Television legend. Mr. Gillett worked for years at KTVT (CBS Television Dallas Affiliate), before retiring in 2015. It is always a treat to see individuals cross over into the world of the theatre, and I was able to see and hear Hodges and Gillett use their talents in one production. For those that know local television, it will be a treat and will leave you with an amusing thought.
Opening weekend jitters more than likely plagued the cast, with small amounts of stumbling over lines of dialogue, especially for such a dialogue-driven show. However, I am confident that as the show gets further into its production run, the cast will certainly feel more comfortable with the dialogue, and on stage. It is often difficult for a small ensemble to carry the weight of the entire stage show (and I do mean the entire show, very few actors left exited the stage during the performance), but I am certain that this talented group of actors will overcome any problems during the production.
One other issue that bears mentioning is the mic interference that plagued the cast early on in the production. The technicians and the ensemble were able to effectively overcome the issues and went on seamlessly into the first Act of the production. In many theaters, it seems that mic feedback and interference is a problem that plagues every production without any rhyme or reason, even in the pre-show mic check. The company overcame these issues with ease, and they quickly were in the rear-view mirror as the production continued.
Overall, the production had its enjoyable moments. If you are looking for a classic American drama, look no further. “12 ANGRY JURORS” is certainly one that theatergoers should include in their list of classic plays. While there is a great amount of truth to the story, I was left leaving the theatre with one particularly important thought (which is true now more than ever), “prejudice always obscures the truth.”
Plays through September 25, 2022.
Theatre at the Cleburne Conference Center, 1501 W. Henderson Street, Cleburne, Texas 76033
Tickets prices are as follows:
Adult – $15
Seniors/Students – $12
September 23 and 24 at 7:30 pm
September 25 at 2:30 pm
For information, or to purchase tickets:
visit: http://www.greatercleburnecarnegieplayers.com or call 682-317-3644