West T. Hill takes a look at 'Twelve Angry Jurors'


What happens when you crowd 12 people in one courtroom to decide the fate of a young boy? Tempers flare and the opinion fluctuates between a guilty verdict or having reasonable doubt in "Twelve Angry Jurors," West T. Hill Community Theatre's early spring production.

Director Katherine Orton says she likes the power of the play, particularly as seen in the character developments.

"These are real people. ... They are honest-to-goodness personalities," Orton explains. "I like character studies, and this is a character study. And I have a magnificent cast."

Working with such a talented cast has its own inherent challenges, she says.

"They're so good, you've gotta make them all work together," Orton notes. "When we have everybody working, it's just plain fun."

And they're so good that they know when they need to squeeze in an extra rehearsal after a particularly bad rehearsal, she adds.


Another challenge has been finding switchblades, which are illegal to carry, Orton explains. Two identical switchblades are part of the plot.

"The pawn shops don't have them. We ordered a couple, but they looked fake. So we're getting Italian stilettos. They need to look real."

Originally, the play was titled "Twelve Angry Men," and it also has been produced as "Twelve Angry Women." Orton says the three women in the cast "are so perfect in their roles."

"I can't imagine men in those roles," she notes.

She got the idea of changing from "Men" to "Jurors" after a read-through at the beach with her nieces and nephews. Some of the nieces impressed her with their portrayals, so she left the cast open both to men and women.

Having women in the play, which is set in the 1950s, changes the dynamic of it. The cantakerous jurors fight amongst themselves.

"But it's a little hard to threaten a woman," Orton notes. "Women change the character of the play."

The play was adapted by Sherman L. Sergel from a script written by Reginald Rose for television. The original film starred Henry Fonda as one angry juror; a remake starred George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon.

Orton hopes potential audience members will want to sample this courtroom drama.

"It's good theater at its best," she says.

If you want to go

Twelve Angry Jurors runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and April 2-3 and at 3 p.m. March 28 and April 4 at West T. Hill Community Theatre on Larrimore Lane. The cost is $8/advance, $9/door. For tickets, call (859) 236-1310

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