Actors at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown are preparing to put on a production unlike any other that the venue's patrons have ever seen.
Aaron Sorkin's ''A Few Good Men'' will be presented on the theater's stage beginning March 25, and director Daniel Pierce says that new ground will be broken in the history of the Little Theatre with the strong - and perhaps for some controversial - language and content the play offers.
''As I understand it, it will be the first time the 'F-word' will be said on the stage of the Little Theatre,'' he said. ''But I chose not to cut any of the language, because I felt it would really hurt the integrity of the play and the characters. We're talking about Marines in Guantanamo Bay. They're not going to sit around saying 'fudge,' 'gee golly' and 'gosh darn.'''
Jack McCray, left, and Shannon Nixon rehearse for their roles as Capt. Isaac Whitaker and Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway in ‘‘A Few Good Men,’’ which will be performed at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown beginning March 25.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
The play is based upon the true story of military lawyers at a court-martial defending two U.S. Marines who were accused of murder - and in the process, uncover a high-level conspiracy. An Oscar-nominated film of the same name was created in 1992 starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore.
Pierce said that while many people who see the play may be more familiar with the film, the play is more personal and a better experience for the audience.
''With live theater, it's more of an intimate setting,'' he said. ''They'll actually get to interact with the characters, instead of just watching them on screen.''
Adam Hughes, who will portray Lt. j.g. Daniel Kaffee in the production, is a Little Theatre veteran of shows including ''Into The Woods,'' ''Shenandoah,'' ''Visiting Mr. Green'' and ''Out of Order.'' He said that he jumped at the chance to be a part of ''A Few Good Men,'' and particularly to play Kaffee, the role made famous by Cruise in the film version.
Hughes said that ''A Few Good Men'' is a powerful play that will take the audience through a gamut of emotions as they watch it unfold on stage.
''There is no part in the show that is not good,'' he said. ''There are parts that will make you laugh, parts that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I hope people aren't detered by the fact there's strong language in the show that's not what they're used to - they shouldn't dwell on the language, because it's nothing they haven't heard before.''
Skip Anderson will play Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep in the production, and he said that while he loves musicals and comedies, he is happy to see the Little Theatre dipping its toes into the dramatic realm with this play.
''I absolutely love drama and I'm glad to see we're doing a good one like this,'' said Anderson, who has been a fixture at the theater for decades in productions such as ''The King and I,'' ''Annie'' and ''Don't Dress For Dinner.'' ''I love to dig my teeth into dramatic roles.''
Anderson said he has worked with most of the members of the cast of ''A Few Good Men'' in other productions, either at Little Theatre or at other venues such as Jamestown Community College's Scharmann Theatre. He said that they are a talented bunch, he said, including Ben Wolf as Lt. j.g. Sam Weinberg and Vince Joy Jr. as Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick.
''I've done a number of shows with him, and it's always a pleasure working with him,'' he said. ''He's top-notch and one of the funniest guys you're ever going to meet.''
In addition to those listed above, the cast of ''A Few Good Men'' will include Wayne Buvoltz, Nick Dole, Robert Craig Hughes, Jack McCray, Michael Nichols, Shannon Nixon, Dale Sandberg, Michael Taylor II, Ron Valvo, Dustin Voorhis and Ralph Walton.
Pierce said that several members of the cast are first-timers on the Little Theatre stage, and several others are returning after long hiatuses from the venue. He said that he believes the content of the play spoke enough to the actors to get them to be a part of the show.
''As Vince said, it's something he gets to do that's outside of his normal range - he usually plays musicals or comedies,'' Pierce said. ''This really stretches, as he plays the fanatical Marine. I think it gives actors an opportunity to stretch.''
The play also represents Pierce's directorial debut, something about which he said he is excited. Growing up with a father who was in the military, he said, the play is meaningful to him as well.
''I have an understanding of the military life - they talked about unit, God, corps and country as their code and their priorities, and my dad drilled that into us,'' he said. ''It's not all bad, and I hope people don't think this is an anti-military play in any way. There are bad guys and good guys in every facet of life.''
During the production of the play, the Little Theatre will support current members of the military by partnering with St. Luke's Youth Group to collect items for care packages to send to soldiers overseas. Items to be collected will include socks, personal hygiene items, candy and gum, instant food, snacks, cereal, cookies, instant oatmeal, and other non-perishable food items.
At least five local soldiers who are associated with St. Luke's will be supported through the collection, Pierce said.
''We (at Little Theatre) always try to do something at each show for community outreach,'' he added.
In addition, Pierce said, a portion of the set - a watchtower - will be auctioned off at the end of the play's run to raise money to begin a scholarship fund in the name of Lance Cpl. Aaron Swanson, a 2007 Southwestern Central School graduate who lost his life in the line of duty in Afghanistan in February.
Pierce said the play will also be dedicated to the memory of John Blackman, a longtime performer at Little Theatre who died suddenly on Jan. 15.
''A Few Good Men'' will open at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre, 18 E. Second St. in Jamestown, at 8 p.m. Friday, March 25. Additional performances will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 26; Thursday, March 31; Friday, April 1; and Saturday, April 2. A matinee show will also be performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 27.
Tickets to each show are $20 and can be reserved by calling the Little Theatre box office at 483-1095.