Steve Rohe, director of Michigan City’s Footlight Players’ “12 Angry Jurors,” says it was easy to adapt the six decade-plus courthouse classic into a modern-day setting.
"I think a lot of the characters and the characterizations are around today as they were when this was originally filmed," he said.
Opening Feb. 2 and running through Feb. 11, “Jurors” chronicles the conflicts incurred by a dozen members of a jury charged with the task of determining the fate of a teenager, who is charged with murdering his abusive father. In their deliberations, many of the jurors find themselves at odds with their own notions and values.
“Jurors” made its debut on CBS in 1954 as “12 Angry Men,” an installment of their groundbreaking “Westinghouse Studio One” series and received a trio of Emmy Awards. It was adapted as a feature film three years later and received three Oscar nods, including Best Picture and Best Director for Sidney Lumet.
Over the course of the last half century-plus, the tale has been adapted on stages and screen in Russia, India and China to various degrees of acclaim.
Footlight Players’ “Jurors” production steps out of its original 1950s setting and into present day. And while conceived with an all-male cast of deliberators and courthouse employees, Footlight Players’ adaptation features both sexes.
“The dialogue is almost identical (between the two source materials) except for a few pronouns,” Rohe said. “Everybody's got the ‘Men's’ script but we've just made some changes where necessary.”
Rohe's cast for "Jurors" features Donald Beck, Greta Friedman, Donovan Barrier, Joe Blanchard, Dean Johanson, Jeff S. Hill, George Maslankowski, Amy Johnson-Sobek, Jill Thomas, Nasem Shwaiki, Amanda Sixbury, Kristina Moore and Mark McColley.
“It's going fine,” Rohe said of his production. “The cast is great.”
Next up for Footlight Players is a production of the musical “Annie,” scheduled to open April 6.