I confess I had doubts about doing this show--and for good reason. Almost always we begin with plays, actual plays. Twelve Angry Men was not originally a play at all, but a television script. And then it was a movie, and a very good movie too. We have a great cast in our production, and my hat is off to the all twelve of them. But would I say they stack up man to man, head to head, with the cast of the 1957 movie starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley and nine other all stars? As good as our team is, It's no shame to say that would be a stretch.
So the question is, why bother doing this play when the celebrated movie is only a netflix click away in the comfort of your own home? A question to be asked.
I got an answer I liked when talking to a man I had met after our opening night performance. He was a lawyer himself, and went to law school with the Honorable Lindsey Fischer, who is the voice giving instructions to our jury. This guy seemed to me a fine man, an intelligent man, a knowledgable man. He told me he had seen the movie four times--and loved it--but he liked our production even more. Even more!!!
Which provokes the further question--why? The best answer I can come up with comes from my own experience watching the play opening night, because I could see why too. Because our show is in a theater. In comes to you live. Because you share the jury room with the jurors, twelve men (there is something rare and wonderful about watching twelve men who are not discussing girls, cars,football or money). And also because your eye and mind are free to roam at will up and down the long table, from face to face, in a way your simply cannot do on film. The theatre version is a collective version, a team effort and a true jury experience. And in David McLendon's fluent, crisp staging it has a rhythm every bit as strong and involving as the film. You take in more of the play, more immediately, than you do when you see it piece by piece on a flat screen.
And oh yeah, our guys are pretty darn good too: Live, 3-D,and in full color. They are, in fact, real.