Bucks County Herald

A Few Good Men” a gripping drama at Town & Country

JEAN BRENNER



The cast of “A Few Good Men.”

The live play, “A Few Good Men,” which also is a terrific movie, is a riveting story made even more powerful when actors are performing 5 to 20 feet from where you are seated.

The cast is comprised of 18 uniformed Marines and Naval officers – 17 men and one woman – all of them involved to some degree either in the killing, the coverup or in the solving of the mystery of just how PFC William Santiago died.

Nancy Ridgeway has directed this beautifully performed play. Creatively, she has staged it placing the judge behind the witnesses and attorneys, but playing as though he were in front. That way, she kept the focus on one end of the stage.

It is not too surprising this play is a good one. Ridgeway has twice won “Best Production” for her work at Town & Country Players. She gives much credit for her theater education to her mentor, John Zimmerman with whom she worked closely during his years as president and director at the Buckingham theater.

She also gives high praise to the actors who are engrossed in their roles and to the members of Town & Country Players including her producer, Jillian Ambs, all of whom accomplish the behind-the-scenes work necessary to make the shows runs smoothly.

T&C President Rob Rosiello, who portrays prosecuting attorney Lt. Jack Ross, writes in the program’s notes: “The story is simple in its premise: Two marines stand accused of murder. As the play unfolds, the quest for truth begins.”

Aaron Sorkin wrote the play first, and then the movie was filmed. Thereafter, talented Sorkin wrote more compelling stories: “The West Wing” and “The Social Network.”

High praise here must go to Brian Jason Kelly playing the leading role of Lt. J.G, Daniel A. Kaffee. I have seen Kelly in several plays recently and find his interpretation and timing in “A Few Good Men” to be strong, compelling and totally believable. He really wrapped his arms around the Kaffee character.

Kudos, also, to Danielle Malat on her excellent portrayal of LTCDR Joanne Galloway, staying strong in the face of frequent derision from her colleagues who cannot understand why a relatively inexperienced female attorney has been sent to help them. Malat’s facial expressions and body language are spot on; she handles the role with fierce grace.

On the same defense team with Kaffee and Galloway is Dave Levy as LTJG Sam Weinberg playing the role with commitment and a nice sense of humor, adding some levity.

Playing a featured role, that of Col. Nathan R. Jessep, is Jerome Neville. The role is of a strong, intense, nasty, Guantanamo Bay chief officer who is feared by all of his men.

Bald-headed and brash, Jessep runs a tight ship and demands obedience from everyone in his charge at Guantanamo. Larry Krevitz, excellently portrays Col. Matthew A. Markinson, and Lee Stover as Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick is loud, overbearing and sometimes difficult to understand as he shouts in underlings’ faces.

It is these two men from whom Jessep expects total loyalty, even to the point of demanding they lie to protect him.

All of the cast is excellent: Keith Kirkner, as the judge; Bill Kontostergios as Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson; Jeffrey Peiffer as PFVC Louden Downey; Jim McIntosh as Capt. Isaac Whitaker, Keith Maliszewski doubling as PFC William Santiago and Cpl. Hammaker; Chris Baldino as Corporal Jeffrey Owen Howard; Ken Stephon as Cmdr. Walter Stone; Michael McClintic as Navy Lawyer/Marine Lawyer; Brendan Lyons as both Tom and Sergeant at Arms; Charles Acosta as Corporal Dunn/Orderly; and Brian Welcker as the MP.

Seeing this production will be one of the most gripping three hours you can spend supporting live theater while appreciating the fine work of this director, these actors, and the sound, lighting, set design and costuming people who helped suspend reality for a short time while transporting you to another place, another time.

“A Few Good Men” continues this weekend and next, June 16 to 24 with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., and a matinee on Sunday, June 18. Reserved seat tickets at $17 are available through townandcountryplayers.org or at the box office 30 minutes before each show.

Jeanbrenner3@gmail.com

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