Today, I live in Summerville, a beautiful, historic town near Charleston. It is a far cry from Cleveland, some 722 miles. I have now lived here for over six years and because of my interest in live stage performances, have always been curious about what goes on at the little theater on the corner of South Main Street and East Richardson Ave. called the James F. Dean Theatre. The event was the monthly Third Thursday in Summerville and my main objective was to satisfy that curiosity, aroused specifically by the fact the play "Wait Until Dark" was being advertised.
The James F. Dean Theatre was originally a movie house converted to accommodate live stage performances. The theater marquee is modest and the entrance a single door. Inside, the decor is simple. There are no lush reds with flecks of gold or marble pillars. I was greeted by a young man by the name of Cody Smith, from whom I requested permission to take some pictures. We briefly conversed about the theater, which gravitated into a discussion about the upcoming play. I brought up the old movie, which in its climax contained one of the top 100 scariest movie moments. I wondered how the performers would duplicate that famous scene. Cody graciously offered me comp tickets for the opening night on March 2nd to see for myself.
Opening night finally arrived. The front door attendant and ushers were all volunteers and local residents. In fact, the front door attendant was my neighbor. The ticket holders were for the most part dressed casually, no suit and tie, but the excitement and anticipation that filled the theater was notably present. The stage and props were well placed and appropriate for the setting, a basement apartment where a blind woman by the name of Susy Hendrix(Tiffany Eliason) lived along with her husband, Sam(Robert Carroll). The lights dimmed and the two small-time con artists, Talman(Chad Estel) and Carlino(Robert Vincelli), entered the apartment to find out they are in for more than they bargained for and relunctantly become partnered with a cold-blooded killer, Harry Roat(Cody Smith), who was looking for a cloth doll.
|Cody, Tiffany, Chad, and Katie|
In my humble opinion, I was thoroughly entertained, and satisfied the director(Christine Eliason) and the cast pulled off the dramatic conclusion. Tiffany, in her first large role, did a very good job simulating a blind woman and projecting the emotional state of the original character. I was pleasantly pleased at the performance of 12 year old Katie Batton, who played the part of Gloria, an upstairs neighbor. Gloria had somewhat of a bratty personality and Katie looked the part. I don't want to give away any of the details, but there was that one scene where alot of things were being thrown around by an insolent Gloria. Now, we come to the sinister Harry Roat played by Cody Smith. For me, the sunglasses and the long switchblade did the trick. Not just any sunglasses, but the Harry Roat type of sunglasses. The cool, calculating killer he was. Cody's mannerisms were expressive and he wielded the knife in an intimidating way. Tiffany and Cody succeeded in gradually raising the suspense for the final, climactic scene involving the refrigerator. Sorry, you will have to purchase a ticket for the rest. It is worth an evening out. Everything seemed to flow smoothly for a live stage performance. Other cast members were Deacon Gerald and Kelsey Palmer. Hats off to Christine and Ernie Eliason.
|Christine and Ernie Eliason|
The Flowertown Players are an acting group in a small theater with a big heart. They feature local talent and invite all with an interest in the performing arts to join them. I look forward to future interactions with the James F. Dean Theatre.