Based on the Emmy-winning 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose, 12 Angry Men is about a 19-year-old who stands trial for killing his father. While most of the jurors believe the teenager is guilty, one juror believes he is innocent. Tensions soon mount among the jurors as they deliberate, and the holdout opens their eyes to the facts around the case.
The director of this production, Cathy Chimenti, decided to keep the play in the 1950s setting. While the play has been done in modern interpretations by other productions, many of the play’s themes continue to hold up today.
City Gate Productions decided upon a series of performances for this play in Fall 2023. Auditions were held in December and the first read-through was done with the finalized cast shortly before New Year’s Eve, according to producer Thom Harmon. Rehearsals began shortly after the start of the new year.
“One of the most exciting parts about [this production] is we’re doing it in the round, where the audience will be surrounding the action,” Harmon said. “The fact that it takes place in a jury room really lends itself to that kind of staging. It’s a very intimate atmosphere. The audience will be front and center and all around.”
City Gate Productions will be the first theater group to put on a theatrical production at the Stone Circle Theatre, located at 59-14 70th Ave.
“I think people will be surprised at just how prescient [the production] is, how it feels extremely modern, how these actors are going to bring these characters to life,” Harmon said. “I think the space and the staging are going to make it even more special.”
The special performance at American Martyrs’ Roman Catholic Church in Bayside came about due in large part to the fact that Chimenti is a member of the congregation there. The church, located at 79-43 Bell Blvd., has also been allowing them to rehearse there.
“It just felt like a great thing to do, to offer that community the chance to see it in their own neighborhood,” Harmon said. “It also plays into our mission at City Gate, which is to bring exceptional live theater to as many neighborhoods in Queens as we can.”
For this upcoming production, City Gate Productions has partnered with Queens-based artist Barrington Brissett. He will have a pop-up gallery at the shows and is creating an original piece inspired by the show.
The cast for this production includes Max Bank, Bart Blachnio, James Brautigam, Robert Budnick, Michael Chimenti, Frank DiSpigno, Joe Dujmic, Frances MacCall, Marco Malgioglio, Bill McAndrews, Daniel Wolfe Mitnik, Conrad O’Neill Rippy and Gal Yosepov. Costume design was done by Nili Resnick. Rich Feldman is the stage manager.
Tickets for the show can be purchased at Citygateproductions.org. They are $20 for students and seniors and $25 for adults.