Moore OnStage Presents Award-Winning Drama
BY MARY ELLE HUNTER
Special to The Pilot
A thought-provoking drama that won the Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards takes over the stage at the Sunrise Theater, when Moore OnStage presents "Doubt: A Parable" from March 7-11.
The play, written by John Patrick Shanley, and first produced on Broadway just seven years ago, has had a timeless relevance for worldwide audiences.
"Doubt: A Parable" has been staged at theaters from California's Pasadena Playhouse to venues in Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, in the Philippines and Singapore, as well as in England and Poland. A production directed by Roman Polanski also had a run in Paris.
The play has been performed by many regional theaters across this country, such as Raleigh's Theatre in the Park, where Cinny Beggs, executive producer of Moore OnStage, saw actress Lynda Clark give an outstanding performance in the difficult and demanding leading female role.
A well-known actress/director/coach with extensive credentials in theater, film and television, Clark is reprising her role as Sister Aloysius as well as directing the Moore OnStage production of "Doubt."
Set in 1964, the play pits Sister Aloysius, the iron-willed principal of a church school, against a charismatic priest, Father Flynn, and the two become locked in a battle of wills.
Clark brings to her dual role as actress-director a dynamic approach and an insightful perspective of the other individuals in this four-character drama. She says playing the role previously makes it a bit easier.
"However, the real challenge for me as a director is to keep the opposing points of view balanced," she says. "As Sister Aloysius, I have to be sure that I maintain the dramatic tension, while at the same time as a director, I have to make sure that the balance is evenly distributed between Father Flynn and the other characters in the play."
Describing Sister Aloysius, Clark observes the Sister was raised in a time when discipline was often harsh and always deemed important.
"Abrupt and brusque, with an inner sense of righteousness, Sister Aloysius has minimal social skills, and she believes it is her sacred duty to protect the children in her care," says Clark. "She feels that she stands as a guardian to keep the children from being accosted by the evils of the world, regardless of the personal sacrifice she is called to make."
Playing the role of Father Flynn is a marked departure for Jamey Helsman. The Sanford resident, who is a favorite with Moore OnStage audiences, has been seen locally in "Oklahoma!," "Lend Me a Tenor," "Plaid Tidings" and "Tintypes."
Since most of his acting career has been in musicals and comedies, Helsman says, "I thought it was time for me to try something new and different. In the role of Father Flynn, I see him as a person who has never really questioned his own actions and beliefs. I also see him as having all the answers - the ultimate talker who can converse with the ladies of the Altar Guild, talk with the young boys about basketball, and comfort someone in distress. There is no situation where he can't cope, until he is challenged by Sister Aloysius."
The two other characters in "Doubt" are Sister James, a naive young nun who is caught between her two powerful supervisors, and Mrs. Muller, the mother of an African-American student who may be the object of sexual misconduct.
Playing the part of Sister James is Juliet Eden, an actress seen in Moore OnStage and Temple Theatre productions.
Juliet Eden welcomed the opportunity to work with Lynda Clark, who has been her mentor and coach, in this, her first, dramatic role.
"Starting out as a wide-eyed novice who has always taken her faith at face value, I am forced to examine its teachings at greater depth, and by the end of the play, I have matured into a young woman who thoughtfully makes her own decisions," says Eden.
Mrs. Muller is played by Ruby Blackman, in her acting debut. Closely aligned with her church, her experiences within the ministry have helped her prepare for the role. She says she can relate to the part of the mother who wants her son to get a good education despite having problems with the school and with his father.
"I give him hope that he can make it no matter what the obstacles are, and in the scene where I meet with Sister Aloysius, I must convince her of my willingness to do whatever I have to do to make sure he is treated with compassion," says Blackman.
Cinny Beggs, who is part of the backstage crew of "Doubt," as well as being executive producer, believes that in the age we are living with all the instant news.
"We have become so quick to judge what we hear, we don't take the time to really analyze a situation or a person or try to figure out what the truth is and what makes a person behave in a certain way," says Beggs. "In 'Doubt,' the ultimate question of who is right or wrong is one that audiences must solve for themselves."
The Sunrise Theater audiences will have the opportunity to discuss the play at an after-theater event at Eye Candy Gallery in a talk-back session with the actors.
Eye Candy Gallery which is sponsoring the production, will open the gallery and a cash wine bar for this after-theater event.
Eye Candy Gallery, located at 275 NE Broad St., directly across from the Sunrise Theater, is also exhibiting a collection of floral paintings in the theater lobby during the run of the show. The media sponsor for the production is WLHC Life 103.1.
Performances are Wednesday, March 7, through Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Sunday, March 11, at 2 p.m.
All seats are reserved and are $23. For information or to make reservations, call (910) 692-7118. It should also be noted that on opening night, Wednesday, all seats are specially priced at $15.
Contact freelance writer Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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