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Law and order when the stakes are high in MUW's 'Twelve Angry Jurors'

 

Mississippi University for Women theatre students are pictured at rehearsal Wednesday for “Twelve Angry Jurors.” Seated are LaVosha Kern, left, Kelsey Sample and, behind her, Andy Currie. Standing are Joseph Musgrove and Alyssa McElfresh. The dramatic play will be presented in Cromwell Theatre Oct. 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10, or $5 for students with ID.

Mississippi University for Women theatre students are pictured at rehearsal Wednesday for “Twelve Angry Jurors.” Seated are LaVosha Kern, left, Kelsey Sample and, behind her, Andy Currie. Standing are Joseph Musgrove and Alyssa McElfresh. The dramatic play will be presented in Cromwell Theatre Oct. 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10, or $5 for students with ID.
Photo by: Chris Jenkins/MUW Public Affairs

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

The drama and angst of a jury deciding whether a man lives or dies is at the center of "Twelve Angry Jurors," the play to be presented Oct. 28-30 by the Mississippi University for Women Department of Music and Theatre.  

 

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Cromwell Theatre in Cromwell Communications Building at the corner of 10th Street and Sixth Avenue South. 

 

Based on the television show "Twelve Angry Men," by Reginald Rose, "Twelve Angry Jurors" was adapted into the three-act play by Sherman L. Sergel. 

 

Lee Crouse, visiting instructor of theatre, recently joined the MUW faculty and directs the ensemble cast. 

 

"At the start of the play, the audience will see what seems to be an open-and-shut case," said Crouse. "These jurors must decide the fate of a 19-year-old boy accused of stabbing his own father to death." 

 

In the jury room, one juror stands alone to point out facts that seemed to be overlooked by the prosecution and defense. Is there a reasonable doubt? 

 

"One of the major challenges in this production is there are 12 people on stage at all times ... dialogue bounces between all the characters," the director noted. 

 

"The play is very much an ensemble piece," said senior theatre major Kelsey Sample, who plays Juror 11. "When you have 12 actors that never leave the stage for the duration of the show, you know that you are going to have to work together, to play off of each other." 

 

Alyssa McElfresh portrays Juror 5. "During this production, with its level of intensity and concentration, we have all become very close to one another," the senior theatre major remarked. 

 

 

 

Relevant then and now 

 

Crouse shared, "The best example of the power of this play is found in an Oct. 17 article in the New York Times about the newest Supreme Court Justice, Sonya Sotomayor." The film "Twelve Angry Men" had a notable impact on the new justice, at a time when she was considering a career in law. "In particular, she was inspired by a line spoken by a naturalized American citizen: ''We have a responsibility. This is a remarkable thing about democracy. That we are, what is the word? ... ah, notified! That we are notified by mail to come down to this place and decide on the guilt or innocence of a man, of a man we have not known before.''" 

 

William "Peppy" Biddy, head of the Department of Music and Theatre, welcomed Crouse to the MUW family. "He has hit the ground running with this large cast production. I look forward to his contributions to the future of our department." 

 

The cast includes Kayla Manzolillo, Josh Chadwick, Britney Bernard, Allysa McElfresh, Joseph Burns, Casey Davis, Mary Hickox, Joseph Musgrove, Jessi Tidwell, Kelsey Sample, Andy Currie and LaVosha Kern as jurors, Tommy Parson as the guard and Leah Thompson as the judge. 

 

Tickets are $10 general admission, and $5 for students with ID. 

 

For more information, contact the Department of Music and Theatre at 662-241-6134.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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