is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kentucky May Be Top Seed, but Studio Players has the BAD SEED

For those looking to escape the hoopla of March Madness, Studio Players offers an escape with the final weekend of BAD SEED. For those not in the know – BAD SEED is the story of 8-year old Rhoda Penmark, who appears to be the perfect child, until her mother discovers the only thing “perfect” about her child is her ability to kill. Audience members who have already seen the production have called it “a creepy good time” and “scary fun”. Why? It is because of the performances of its stellar cast, to include that of 12-year old Abby Quammen in the title role.

“Abby is an amazing young actress.  I was very lucky to have her as part of the cast” says director David Senatore.  Abby auditioned along with 14 other young girls hoping to win the role of Rhoda. “The level of talent I had to choose from was amazing – area theaters really need to provide more opportunities for these young actors!”  So what was it that made her stand out?  “With this production, I really wanted to focus on the relationship between mother and daughter. What put Abby over the top was how much she looked like Jessica (York), the actress playing the mom. They both have this smile that just lights up the room. That was cincher for me.”

Based on the 1954 novel by William March, the theatrical version of BAD SEED was adapted by Maxwell Anderson that same year and opened on Broadway on December 8, 1954, running for 334 performances. The play was shortlisted for the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. pressured the prize jury into presenting it to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof instead.

Director David Senatore

So why do such a dated script? “The story is fascinating, and I believe, still relevant to modern audiences. When it was first introduced in 1954, the shocker was “how can a child do such horrible things”, but nowadays we KNOW kids can do horrible things, and the question we ask is ‘where were the parents or the adults?  Why did they let it happen?’ And that’s the story I wanted to focus on – the adults that surround Rhoda. When you look at how the story is written, you start to realize that practically every adult in Rhoda’s life, in their own way, enabled her to get away with murder.”

Each one of these characters has an opportunity to stop Rhoda, yet each, in their own way, fails to do so. The school teacher, Miss Fern, (played with bitchy abandonment by Natalie Cummins) knows more than she’s telling. People ignore the warnings of Mrs. Daigle’s, the drunk and desperate mother of the murdered child, due to her inebriated state of mind (played to dramatic perfection by Mary Anne Mathews). Rhoda’s grandfather (Kelly Hale) selfishly refuses to believe facts over his own personal prejudices. Then there is the creepy janitor Leroy (Greg Waltermire) who accidently stumbles upon Rhoda’s secret and suffers the consequences.  Stuck in the middle of all of this is Rhoda’s mother (Jessica York) whose insecurities send her on a downward spiral that leads to the shows’ dramatic conclusion.

And the purpose of doing such a show? “Sure, we hope the audience will leave the theater and have a discussion about the relevancy of the show – the whole nature vs. nurture argument. But mostly – it’s just a fun ride! This script can very easily become campy melodrama, but the cast gives a very understated and balanced performance that draws the audience in. Once you’re hooked, you’re taken on this roller coaster of a ride. The best part for me is watching the audience’s reaction to the final scene. They never see it coming!”


In the interest of encouraging attendance at the final Saturday night (3/31) performance of Bad Seed, Studio Players is offering the following one-time offer:
1. If you have already seen the show, you can come back and see it again free of charge, this Saturday night.

2. If you have already seen the show, and you come back and see it again Saturday night free of charge, if you bring guests, the guests get in for 1/2 price ($8.50).
3. If you are a member of Studio Players and attend the March 27, 2012 membership meeting, you can see the show Saturday night free of charge. Just check in at the ticket counter on Saturday evening.
4. If you are a member of Studio Players and aren’t able to attend the membership meeting, you can attend Saturday night's performance for half price ($8.50)--walk up and pay at the door.
5. Finally, for students, a student rush: students can attend Saturday night for half off the regular ticket price ($8.50)-- walk up and pay at the door.
All purchases under this offer must be completed at the theater on Saturday evening before show time.
Regular sales and comp ticket redemptions
continue at the Downtown Arts Center Box Office.
If you have questions about this offer, please contact Scott Turner at or by phone at 502-542-0220.

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