In its ongoing quest to provide patrons with a well-rounded theatre experience, Alpena Civic Theatre chose a classic turn-of-the-century drama about greed and sibling rivalry for the final production of its 2010-11 season.
Written in 1939, "Little Foxes" by Lillian Hellman starred Tallulah Bankhead on stage and Bette Davis on the big screen, where Davis won an Oscar for her memorable performance. The movie also went on to nab nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
"It really is a masterpiece of American theatre," said Director Pat Jacques. "The themes are pretty profound and the story is relevant. The playwright sometimes called it her 'angry comedy,' and it's based a lot on her own family."
Appearing in Alpena Civic Theatre’s production of “Little Foxes” are, seated from left, Bob Lister, Terry Carlson, Pat?Jacques and Carol Rundell. Standing are Dan Nordenbrock, Rosina Phillips, Jim Phillips, Douglas Niergarth, Jonathon Berrisford and Megan Mindykowski. The show opens May 12 for a two-week run.
Jacques has long been a fan of Hellman's work, with "Little Foxes" considered her best play. Though he lists more toward comedies, ACT asked him to direct a drama for the season finale.
"They asked me to do a drama," Jacques said. "I'm more of a comedy guy, but we try to present a variety of different types of plays. This is about as serious as you can get."
The play's central theme and title comes from the Song of Solomon and concerns the exploitation of the land and the people. It is set in the Deep South in 1900, where the Hubbard siblings are having their own money-driven, power-hungry civil war.
Terry Carlson, another actress known for her comedic roles, plays Regina, the most calculating of the bunch. She, along with her brothers, demands ownership of a cotton mill expected to yield millions.
Jacques does double-duty as Regina's brother, Benjamin. Dan Nordenbrock fills the role of the other brother, Oscar. The threesome is about to strike a deal with a Yankee businessman, played by Bob Lister, because they want to build the cotton gin in the small Southern town where they have long grown cotton and swindled poor blacks.
Douglas Niergarth plays Regina's ailing husband, Horace. Megan Mindykowski appears as Regina's daughter and Jonathon Berrisford plays Benjamin's son, Leo.
Others featured in the show are Rosina Phillips and Jim Phillips as the family servants Addie and Cal, and Carol Rundell as Oscar's wife, Birdie.
"It's a tremendous cast. They are very dedicated and hard-working," Jacques said. "This is a difficult play. The lines have to be learned precisely in order for it be effective. I'm a stickler for that. We're producing the play as it was written."
Behind the scenes, Chip Lavely designed the set that was constructed by a large crew that included Duane and Judy Beyer. Nancy Mead completed most of the set painting. Serving as assistant director is Evelyn Hunter with Judy Beyer as stage manager, Jay Kettler on lighting design and Marilyn Kettler on costume design.
Alpena Civic Theatre will present "Little Foxes" May 12-15 and May 19-22 with show times at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
For reservations, call the ACT box office at 354-3624.