MONTROSE — Ever since childhood, Montrose resident John Snyder loved the Frederick Knott story, "Wait Until Dark." In the 1990s, Snyder was an acting student, living in New York City, where he saw the play performed on Broadway staring Quentin Tarantino.
With Tarantino’s performance, Snyder fell in love all over again, and he has now worked to produce the story in Montrose. Snyder is directing the play, along with Assistant Director David Olson, for a series of performances at Magic Circle Players Theatre beginning January 11.
At a rehearsal Monday evening Snyder and his actors were working on the performance, and brainstorming about how to make the set better. "I saw the movie with Audrey Hepburn when I was a youngster, and I really liked it, and being in theater as youngster I knew I wanted to be in it, or wanted to direct it someday," Snyder said.
“It's one of my favorite movies,” he said, referring to a 1966 adaptation of the play staring Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and Jack Weston, directed by Terence Young. Hepburn was nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress in the role.
In a press release, the play, described as taking place in a basement-level New York apartment in the 1960s, tells the story of a recently handicapped young woman, Susy Hendrix, played by Montrose resident Jessica Kastendieck, who must outwit a murderous band of confidence men who will stop at nothing to possess a fortune in heroin her husband Sam, played by Troy Lee, has inadvertently brought into their home, stuffed into a doll he has brought home from Canada.
Susy gives the doll to Gloria, a young girl who lives in the apartment upstairs, played in six performances by Jewel Kastendieck, and in two performances by Brenna Russell).
As the criminals’ plot unfolds, Susy notices clues of their deceit and inconsistencies in their behavior. When it becomes obvious she has become their target for murder, she devises a desperate defense strategy based on her handicap.
"It's a thriller, a very suspenseful play,” Snyder said, of the ensuing action. “It's a story of how a woman perseveres over some bad guys.” Of Susy, he says, “She is a very strong-willed woman.”
The three men are played by Montrose residents Peter Ambrose, Travis Russell and Nate Cretti. Rounding out the cast are police officers played by Chris Tarman and Charles Lee. “‘Wait Until Dark” uses darkness and silence like a switchblade in the night; the action is ominous and heart-stopping. If you love thrillers, it’s a perfect way to spend an exciting time at Magic Circle Players,” according to the press release.
Evening performances take place on Jan. 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees on Jan. 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. Ticket sales open to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the box office (Magic Circle Theatre, 420 South 12th St. in Montrose), or by calling 970/249-7838. The box office is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 2-5 p.m.