‘A Few Good Men’ on stage twice this weekend

From left, Jerry Cox as Captain Whitaker, Ashley Logle as Mary Jane, and Erin Rich as Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway in “A Few Good Men..” (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — The military legal drama “A Few Good Men” is coming to the stage in Kent County this weekend with shows in Camden and Smyrna presented by Stanton’s 4th Wall theater troupe.

“I’ve been wanting to do the play since I originally saw the movie but have seriously been thinking about it for three years and we felt like now was the right time,” said Don Lonski of Felton, a founding member who portrays Lt. Daniel Kaffee and also directs the show.

The group started about four years ago as The 4th Wall but after the unexpected death of founding member Denis Stanton, the group renamed itself Stanton’s 4th Wall.

“The whole thing started because of Denis so after his heart attack, we decided to change our name in his memory,” said Jeff Mask of Dover, who plays Col. Nathan Jessep, portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the movie version.

Although most know “A Few Good Men,” from the 1992 film, it was originally a play written by Aaron Sorkin, which debuted on Broadway in 1989. Although the two share many similarities, there are distinct differences, so Mr. Lonski mixed together the best of both for Stanton’s performance.

From left, Bryan Wright as Louden Downey, Cole Pope as Harold Dawson, Josiah Rich as Cpl. Howard, Jeremy Clifton as Captain Jack Ross, and Michael Schmieplin as Lt. Sam Weinburg. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“The play is great but it doesn’t have some of the great parts that people who know the movie love,” Mr. Mask said. “For example the line ‘You can’t handle the truth’ isn’t in the play but it’s the most iconic line of the movie so we couldn’t put it on without that line.”

The group performs many sketch comedy revues featuring bits from shows like “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and “The Carol Burnette Show” but also does dramatic plays as well.

Unlike most theater groups, Stanton’s 4th Wall does not hold auditions. Its core group of five reaches out to local actors based on who they think will fit best.

“We go see a lot of different shows in the area and get to know the actors and after we decide what show we’re doing, we talk about who we’ve seen and who would be great for what part,” Mr. Lonski said.

“Putting on a good show has so much to do with casting. So we find the right people who are committed to working hard because we are serious about what we do and push everyone to do their very best.”

Erin Rich, who portrays Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway, was recruited by Stanton’s 4th Wall about a year ago and this show will be her second drama with the group.

“I think this role is a great one for me because I rarely get to be a smart, serious woman in productions. It’s a nice, empowering change,” said Ms. Rich.

After acting during her childhood she picked it back up a few years ago after being convinced to audition for a show for Milford’s Second Street Players and getting the part. But in the meantime, she has assisted with the Children’s Theatre as her oldest son, Josiah, began acting with that group when he was 8.

From left, Jeff Mask as Col. Jessep, Brantley Craig as Lt. Kendrick, Larry Mola as Lt. Col, Markinson and Michael Forrest as Cmdr. Stone. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Josiah, now 14, is the youngest member of the “A Few Good Men” cast, his first performance with all adult actors.

“I really like rehearsing and acting with the adults,” he said. “Everyone here acts with such a passion and you know they love it because they are busy with their jobs and families and still choose to come here and act.”

Like his fellow male actors, Josiah committed to his role with a military-style haircut, which he’ll be sporting for several more weeks.

“This definitely isn’t how I like my hair, but we all did it and I’ll be happy once it all grows back,” he said.

Brantley Craig of Dover portrays Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick and also got his hair cut for the show.

“Acting is all about fitting the part so we did the whole haircut thing,” he said. “Everyone loves a good courtroom melodrama and we’re going to give that to the audience with authenticity.”

Mr. Craig picked up acting in college as an extracurricular activity and has kept with it, contributing to the dedication and enthusiasm that keeps the group going. And it does take dedication to do a show like “A Few Good Men” which has a whopping 47 scenes.

“It’s not an unusually long play but there is a lot of story and on stage, time passing is best shown with short scenes. So the story is told a little differently on stage than it is in the movie,” he said.

The numerous scenes ensure than none of the 17 cast and crew members are ever cooling their heels because if they aren’t involved in the current scene, they may be in the next, which is only a few lines away.

Stanton’s 4th Wall doesn’t have a permanent home like other theater groups so they travel to available venues after starting out with a self-built stage near a swamp for their very first production, “Dracula.”

Erin Rich as Lt. Commander Joanne Galloway and Don Lonski as Lt. Daniel Kaffee. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

So this weekend they’re starting the show’s run at The Rockshop, a venue run by the owners of B&B Music in Camden Friday followed by a show on Saturday at the Smyrna Opera House.

Both shows begin at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12 in Camden and $14 in Smyrna.

To get tickets for the show at the Rockshop, at 3395 S. DuPont Highway, visit bnbmusic.com or at the door.

For the Smyrna Opera House show, visit SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, call 653-4236 or purchase them at the door at 7 W. South St.

“I think the venue change will go smoothly because I was in a touring group for years so I know how it’s done and I thrive under last-minute pressure,” Mr. Lonski said.

“Everyone is so dedicated and I think that’s what’s going to make these shows amazing.”

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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