Theater Review: Wait Until Dark—an evening of suspense at Pec Playhouse—runs through July 29

Michael Stanton Kelly makes his directorial debut with Wait Until Dark. A stage manager at NAT, he received his MFA in directing from Western Illinois University. Working with actors is a learning experience, and his first effort is commendable. The support of a hard-working crew and cast has, in his words, been gratifying. One of the founders of emerging Riverfront Theatre Company, his opportunities will increase.

Ilea Pearce as Susy Hendrix makes her debut at Pec. The role of a blind woman using her skills to defy those who plot to finalize a failed drug deal challenges, the most experienced actor. She meets the test beautifully. Kylee Smull as Gloria, the young neighbor who both assists and presents problems to the blind woman, has the stage presence of years in theater. We’ll see more of her.

Brett Dunlap (Sgt. Carlino), Jeff Mundinger (Mike Talman) and Ed Stiltner (Harry Roat, Jr.), relative newcomers to the stage, had some problems with Act I. Their dialogue, stilted and awkward, reflected that inexperience. By Act II, much of the difficulty had been overcome, and the momentum of the plot helped keep them focused. Jeff Vardell, also new to theater, is Sam, Susy’s husband. The character, central to the story, appears briefly.

Mark Kann continues to fill many roles—stage manager, publicity and program give him the opportunity to display theatrical talent. Many years of directing make him the perfect teacher.

Kelly designed the set, and the expertise of Brett and Dave Dunlap results in the finest scenery seen in Pec Playhouse. The details are completely authentic. The Philco refrigerator, the Maytag washer, and the kitchen range represent the time period perfectly. The basement apartment of Greenwich Village constructed by the Dunlaps, Larry Schnoor, Bill Smull and Glen Wiegert, is completely professional.

Wait Until Dark plays through July 29. (815) 239-1210 is the Box Office number. The popular Escanaba in Da Moonlight opens Sept. 14.

from the July 25-31, 2007, issue

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