The Junior Fellows had something like a walking quorum at the Huntsville Community Theater play Twelve Angry Men. Different members, advisors, and alumni went to see the play at different times, but they all came away with the conclusion that it was well worth seeing.
The play was written by Reginald Rose for television in 1954, then adapted for film in 1957,
and made it to Huntsville in 2012. It was worth the wait.
The local cast is interesting. Standouts were Scotty Cherryholmes as the heavy (Juror #3, played by Lee J. Cobb in the film), Steve Everett as the juror from the slums (Juror #5, played by Jack Klugman in the film), Ray Cheek as the coldly logical juror (Juror #4, played by E.G. Marshall in the film), and Domonic Orozco as the protagonist (Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda in the film), but the entire cast was fine.
The play did a good job of allowing the individual juror’s personalities to develop and capturing some of the film’s powerful moments. One interesting omission: the play does not have the dramatic scene in which Juror #3 breaks down, implicitly acknowledging that he is projecting his personal family problems onto the accused.
In looking back at the film, it’s amazing how many of these actors went on to have strong careers in television or film. Martin Balsam (the foreman) was in Psycho, Cape Fear, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Little Big Man. Lee J. Cobb was in Exodus, the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, and On the Waterfront. Jack Warden was in Donovan’s Reef, All the President’s Men, and The Verdict. Henry Fonda, of course, was one of the greatest actors of all time, and throw in supporting figures such as Jack Klugman (Quincy, The Odd Couple), E.G. Marshall (Absolute Power), Robert Webber (Dirty Dozen), and Ed Begley (Dark City), and you’ve got a fine movie.
And the Huntsville Community Theater has a fine play. It’s the kind of production that’s just right for Huntsville. A simple set without a lot of moving parts; a well-known production that can draw people in; a timeless and dramatic story with a feel-good ending. It’s a lot of fun.
Today was the last performance of Twelve Angry Men, but the HCT resumes its production schedule on June 15 with the Wizard of Oz. Auditions for Oz open on May 19.