It is time to rediscover the classic courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men playing at The Pasadena Playhouse from Nov. 5 to Dec. 1. It is a powerful play that is relevant today, asking tough questions as members of a jury examine their prejudices as they sit in judgment of a man.
Thanks to the diverse stellar cast and brilliant direction by The Pasadena Playhouse’s artistic director Sheldon Epps, the drama will “fight the good fight, open our minds, and start an honest conversation long after you leave the theater,” says Juror Eight, Jason George, one of the twelve impressive actors in the show.
Also doing jury duty are Clinton Derricks-Carroll as Juror Eleven (Dreamgirls), Scott Lowell as Foreman/Juror One (Queer as Folk), Gregory North as Juror Three (Broadway’s The Secret Garden, Grand Hotel), Barry Pearl as Juror Seven (Broadway/The Pasadena Playhouse’s Baby It’s You!), Robert Picardo as Juror Four (Star Trek: Voyager), Adam J. Smith as Juror Twelve (Intimate Apparel), Jacques C. Smith as Juror Five (Oz), Bradford Tatum as Juror Ten (NYPD Blue), Adolphus Ward as Juror Nine (The Train Driver), Ellis E. Williams as Juror Six (The Pasadena Playhouse’s Jitney), and Jeff Williams as Juror Two (TV’s Birdland, One Life to Live).
“No matter your background, you’ll see somebody on stage that reminds you of you. That’s the goal of the diverse cast,” says Jason George, a series regular on Mistresses, Grey’s Anatomy, and Witches of East End.
George loves projects that are collaborations, and does a workshop for actors as another creative outlet “just to chop it up with actors.” That’s the appeal of working with the Twelve Angry Men ensemble and director Epps.
“These guys are tremendously talented and inquisitive. I wish the audience could see the rehearsal process and hear the conversations we’ve had. We’re here for a common cause and not satisfied with easy answers. We signed on to help further this conversation. That’s a responsibility we take very seriously, and we’re honored to do it,” George explains.
Twelve Angry Men seems like an open-and-shut case. It is set in a sweltering NYC courtroom in 1955 as a jury files in. The members deliberate a murder case verdict in which a young man is accused of killing his father. The young man faces the death penalty if found guilty. These dozen men find themselves in the role of potential executioner, but first they must face their biases and their own sense of justice.
This classic resonates today because of recent high-profile headline-grabbing verdicts such as in the Trayvon Martin case. Twelve Angry Men dissects the thought process of the jury. “That makes it modern and timeless,” according to George. “You realize that we all have prejudices. It’s inherent in human beings, but when you stand in judgment of another person, that unique situation where people have to decide whether another man gets to live or die — personal prejudices obscure the truth. That is the lesson to be learned.
“This was written in the ’50s, but the situation of judging someone based on how they look has never gone away, and may never go away. But we’ve got to recognize we have prejudices and fight the good fight.”
Twelve Angry Men runs Nov. 5 to Dec. 1. The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Ave. in Pasadena. For tickets call (626) 356-7529 or go to www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.