Review: TWELVE ANGRY MEN at Asolo Repertory Theatre

Once again, Asolo has successfully shown us something to think about, contemplate, and make new again.

By: May. 15, 2024
Review: TWELVE ANGRY MEN at Asolo Repertory Theatre
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First Published in 1954, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose centers on the negotiation of a jury’s determination over a homicide trial. Discrimination and classism become problematic among the group as they try to work together to make a final decision. Twelve jurors are locked within the small, hot jury room, intensifying the tense exchange between the men, over the course of the play.

The play first appeared in 1955 in San Francisco. In 2004, the Roundabout Theater Company presented a Broadway production at the American Airlines Theatre. A national theatre tour soon followed. There were also a number of adaptations in film of Twelve Angry Men, including a 1957 feature film starring Henry Fonda, that was nominated for multiple categories by the Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In June 2022, Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis  a musical adaptation with a book by David Simpatico and music and lyrics by Michael Holland premiered, and that is what we are seeing at Asolo Theatre in it’s final show of the season.

 "Twelve Angry Men, A New Musical" takes us back to New York in 1959, immersing us in a stunning set of a high skyline and jazzy riffs that capture the essence of the time. The ambiance is palpable, with the heat rising as the characters move across the stage, their emotions simmering and occasionally boiling over in moments of anger. The stark contrast between the expected stoicism of men in the 1950s and the raw display of emotions in the play is striking.

One particularly poignant moment is when the bigoted "Juror #10," masterfully portrayed by James Michael Detmar, confronts the ignorance of his beliefs, a powerful realization that challenges his preconceptions. As the characters grapple with their personal issues and biases, the weight of deciding the fate of the person on trial hangs heavy in the air. Contemplating the profound responsibility of determining someone's destiny, whether they live or die, adds a layer of complexity to the intense deliberations unfolding on stage.

Once again, Asolo has successfully shown us something to think about, contemplate, and make new again. Twelve Angry Men, A New Musical is playing through June 9th. 




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