WEST WINDSOR – The life of a young man hangs in the balance and rests in the hands of 12 jurors in a seemingly open-and-shut case. However, can they set aside personal prejudices and preconceptions in the name of justice? That is the question for “12 Angry Men,” presented by Forté Dramatic Productions Jan. 17-26 at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre.
Dates and show times are Friday, Jan. 17 and Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. The community is invited to an opening night reception with the cast and crew following the Jan. 17 performance. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.
Set in the 1950s, “12 Angry Men” entails the intense examination of 12 jurors as they deliberate following the murder trial of a young man accused of killing his father. While the evidence seems to be stacked against the defendant, prejudices are tested and members of the jury are forced to look past courtroom theatrics to discover the truth. Thrust into the executioner’s role, these twelve men must first face themselves..
“The original production was set in a turbulent time – the struggle for civil rights, emergence from a global conflict, and the escalation of the Cold War created a nation rife with anxiety and distrust,” said Director John Zimmerman. “In spite of the progress we’ve made as a society since that time, we face many similar challenges today. That’s the reason ‘12 Angry Men’ is a timeless classic.” .
To address many of the issues brought up during the performance, the cast and production team will host a special “talkback” following the shows on Saturday, Jan. 18 and Friday, Jan. 24. The audience is invited to join in a conversation about the play, the issues that it raises, and its continued relevance in today's world in contrast to the original 1954 production.
Originally presented as a live television broadcast in 1954, “12 Angry Men” went on to become an Academy Award-winning motion picture starring Henry Fonda as Juror No. 8 and Lee J. Cobb as Juror No. 3. The American Film Institute ranks the film as one of the greatest courtroom dramas of all time, second only to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” A television remake in 1997 featured Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott, who earned an Emmy for his portrayal of Juror No. 3.
The cast features Dennis Farrelly of Monmouth Junction as Juror No. 1 (the Foreman), Jim Gardner of Titusville as Juror No. 2, Rick Purcell of Monroe as Juror No. 3, Jack Bathke of Robbinsville as Juror No. 4, James Zimmerman of Hamilton as Juror No. 5, Alfie Mannino of Collingswood as Juror No. 6, Nicholas Pecht of Hamilton as Juror No. 7, Bill Kamps of Burlington as Juror No. 8, William Walters of Columbus as Juror No. 9, Peter Sauer of Yardley, Pa., as Juror No. 10, John Fischer of Hamilton as Juror No. 11, Dan Hickey of Marlton as Juror No. 12, and Matt Zisk of Princeton as the Guard.
“12 Angry Men” is produced by Stephanie Zimmerman of Hamilton; Jennifer Boutros of Lawrenceville is stage manager, and Mary Burke of South Brunswick is assistant director. Set design is by Evan Paine of Lawrence, lighting is by Scott Monsees of Princeton Junction, sound is by Mike Skelly of Bordentown, and costume design is by Gina Whalen of Lawrence.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students and may be purchased online at kelseytheatre.org or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at (609) 570-3333. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible. Free parking is available next to the theater. For more information or to receive a printed copy of the Kelsey Theatre 2019-20 season brochure, call the box office or visit the theatre website.