Though located slightly outside of the Triangle, the Neuse Little Theatre, housed in Smithfield, is one of the area’s best kept secrets. This cute little theatre is shaped like a log cabin, features affordable ticket prices, and, judging by its production of Wait Until Dark, directed by Matt Gore, really knows how to put on a good show.
For those not familiar with Frederick Knott’s semi-classic play, first performed in 1966, it’s a suspenseful and twisted tale of a drug-containing doll and the hi-jinks that go on in an effort to re-obtain it.
The doll, given to Sam Hendrix (Keifer Morris) by a mysterious woman on a flight with the request that he hold it for her, has gone missing, and unbeknownst to the Hendrix family, there’s a big price to pay unless it turns up. When Sam goes out of town, he leaves his blind wife, Susy (Ashley Jones) alone, not realizing she will soon be faced with a couple of crazy con-men, Sgt. Carlino (Randy Jordan) and Mike Talman (FACE), operating under ruffian ne’er-do-well Harry Roat, Jr.’s (Dan Ruffino) orders. Sam’s troubled and feisty little niece, Gloria (Kaitlyn Zhoroff), who lives upstairs from the Hendrix family, is also thrown into the mix as she comes in and out of the crazy scenario Susan has found herself in.
If the plot sounds a little convoluted, that’s because it is- but the show is surprisingly fun and even a little empowering. The action plays out on an impressive 60s-style set designed by Gore and Meta Toole. The set has lots of great touches, including a vintage fridge, old-school furniture, and eye-catching pops of color placed here and there. Janet Osburn’s minimal lighting (how appropriate) also adds to the ambiance of the production.
The cast is also impressive. Jordan is bumbling, funny, and appropriately rough-around-the-edges in his comical portrayal of the dim-witted Sgt. Carlino while FACE offers an impressive stage presence and a sort of charming ruggedness to his character. Young Zhoroff stomps and bosses her way around the set with ease, managing to successfully bring the “spunk” of her character to full life. Most impressive though is Jones. With her piercing blue eyes, she’s a natural choice to play Susy, and she really aces the portrayal of a blind woman. Always focusing in the distance yet still managing to keep her character’s (mostly) calm and collected demeanor true-to-life, Jones really does a stellar job mastering this tough role.
Gore’s cast is tightly directed, and his staging, which has characters scrambling around outside a see-through window, is equally adept. Also impressive is D. Anthony Pender’s fight choreography, which manages to look perfectly natural even in the tight space. A wonderfully intimate and suspenseful experience, NLT’s Wait Until Dark is definitely worth a watch.
WAIT UNTIL DARK (Neuse Little Theatre, Nov. 14-16, 21, and 22 in the former American Legion Hut in Smithfield, NC).
SHOW: http://hometownheritage.com/neuselittletheatre/nextshow.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/846425278711896/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.neuselittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NeuseLittleTheatre, and https://twitter.com/neuselittlethtr.
Wait Until Dark (1966 Broadway play): http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=9129 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wait_Until_Dark (Wikipedia).
Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.courttheatre.org/pdf/guides/Wait_Until_Dark_Study_Guide.pdf (Court Theatre at the University of Chicago).
Frederick Knott (English playwright, 1916-2002): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=5685 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Knott (Wikipedia).
Matt Gore (director): https://www.facebook.com/matt.gore.794 (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.