Twelve Angry Women is undoubtably the hardest play the Sky High Players are doing this year. The intensity the all-girl cast must show throughout the performance should be something beyond the years of these young ladies. Yet, they do a wonderful job of showing not just the surface emotion of their roles, but often the subtle undertones of what is actually driving each juror.
Nanette Wharton who directs this play and also Meet Me In St. Louis said they spent a lot of time discussing each part and what underlying emotions drive each juror.
Like Juror 4, played by Taylor Regan, who is supposed to be rich and aloof. Taylor is able to convey a certain feeling that she’s not really all that she seems to be. That the monied life her character tries to demonstrate isn’t actually real. Or the reaction of Juror 7, played with great attitude by Andrea Tonnies, when her ancestry is pointed out. And also Juror 11 played by Lily Mareite — who really is an exchange student from Germany — who’s character is ‘foreign born’ and has to navigate the cultural differences as a juror in America.
Thursday night, each performer brought into focus the various difficulties and personal struggles in deciding whether to send a man to the electric chair or not. This is the essence of the tele-play created by Reginald Rose when he originally wrote 12 Angry Men.
Wharton said that some people think she changed the script from men to women, but that isn’t the case. There are actually three versions — men only, women only, and a mixed jury. Wharton also said that it is required reading for Sophomore English and she hopes that all students will attend this play.
“Plays are meant to be performed, not read,” said Wharton.
The strongest performances were those of the protagonist, Juror 8 played by Sarah Sidwell, and the antagonist, Juror 3 played by Skylar Little. At first, Juror 8 is alone in expressing doubt over the guilt of the accused. But slowly as the whole group reviews the evidence she turns the tables on Juror 8 who clearly wants a guilty verdict.
“We practiced a lot,” said Sidwell about how she and Little were able to bring such intensity to their parts. “It took us a while to get it down. I practiced being strong throughout the entire play, holding my ground, and then trying to take it from there.”
And by standing her ground, Sidwell had to take a very threatening moment from Little. “At first I didn’t like the knife,” said Sidwell. “Almost being stabbed, it took me a long time.”
“I personally liked handling the knives,” said Skylar Little who plays the tough talking Juror 3. “That was my favorite part.”
“I kind of got a little too into the role,” added Little. “I got real excited. I really like yelling at people when (in fact) I actually love them.”
Little who was laughing and smiling after the show was nothing like her hard talking, mean personality on the stage. So where did she draw her inspiration for the performance? “Not to be mean to my mother, but my mother when she’s mad,” said Little. “I drew on that and all the teachers that have yelled at me — all rolled into one and there you go.”
At the end of the show was a quiet confrontation between Little and Sidwell’s characters. “It took us a while to figure out how we were going to do that scene,” said Sidwell. “There are so many different ways you could do it. Throughout the play we are screaming at each other and there was a lot of loudness, so we decided for at the end we wanted to make it soft — like a feel of defeat.”
The Sky High Players still have two more performances of 12 Angry Women starting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27 and Friday, April 29. “Our cast and crew are awesome and amazing,” said Little. “We Rock!”
And quoting fellow cast-mate Taylor Regan, Little added, “’That’s what you get with an all-girl cast.’”
Juror 1: Kensie Migliori
Juror 2: Karissa Maughan
Juror 3: Skylar Little
Juror 4: Taylor Regan
Juror 5: Jessica Jarvis
Juror 6: Erin Pitcher
Juror 7: Andrea Tonnies
Juror 8: Sarah Sidwell
Juror 9: Jordan Rodgers
Juror 10: Jessica Neff
Juror 11: Lily Mareite
Juror 12: Emily Shirley
Guard: Stephanie Smith