Byron Civic Theatre announces cast for ‘Mister Roberts,’ opening Jan. 27

Staff Report

BYRON, Ill. — Mister Roberts, a World War II-era play, opens Jan. 27 at Byron Civic Theatre (BCT). Productions will be staged at the Byron Middle School Theatre, 850 N. Colfax St., Byron, Ill.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets ($12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for students) can be purchased by calling the BCT Box Office at (815) 312-3000 from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday, or 9 a.m.- noon, Saturday; by e-mailing; or by visiting The show runs through Feb. 5.

Mister Roberts opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre Feb. 18, 1948, starring Henry Fonda, David Wayne and Robert Keith. Fonda got out of a Hollywood film contract to star in the Broadway theater stage production, and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. The play is based on a 1946 novel by Thomas Heggen.

The novel began as a collection of short stories about Heggen’s experiences aboard the USS Virgo (AKA-20) in the South Pacific during World War II. Broadway producer Leland Hayward acquired the rights for the play and hired Heggen and Joshua Logan for the adaptation. In 1955, Fonda again starred as Lt. Douglas Roberts and joined James Cagney, Jack Lemon and William Powell in the film version of the story.

The story takes place on an American Naval cargo ship, the USS Reluctant, during the waning days of World War II. The ship’s captain, Lt. Commander Morton (Steve Walters) is proud of his spotless record supplying the U.S. fleet. His command style is heavy-handed: he refuses to let the crew remove their shirts during hot days working in the cargo hold and has not granted his men “liberty” for at least two years, despite frequent requests by his executive officer, Lt. Douglas Roberts (Dirk Palmer).

Roberts has an excellent relationship with the crew, often bending the rules to allow them some leeway. For Morton’s reputation for timely handling of cargo, an impressed admiral gave him a palm tree, which he cherishes and keeps in a dirt-filled bucket near the ship’s bridge. However, the crew despises the tree and the captain himself, and it is widely known by the crew that Roberts, not Morton, is primarily responsible for the ship’s efficiency.

The remainder of the cast for Mister Roberts includes Orv Kersten, Dave Zumdahl, Chris Palmer, Sean Sweet, Ron Harvey, Jeff Mickey, Colton Thompson, Kevin Spieden, Brian Wygant, Grant Brooks, Norm Metz, Amy Mershon, Steve Raine and Stu Thompson.

From the Jan. 25-31, 2012, issue

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