“Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone.”
Clarksville, TN – The Roxy Regional Theatre has started a very limited run of the drama Doubt. The play has received rave reviews and awards during its main stage run, including multiple Tony Awards, several Drama Desk Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics Circle Best Play Award, and the Theater World Award. Miramax released a movie version of the play in 2008 featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep.
I went into this having already seen the movie, and can safely say that the Roxy Performance was simply outstanding. I will stack Tom Thayer, Leslie Green, Kendall Anne Thompson, and Adriane Wiley-Hatfield up against Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis any day! The Roxy’s production of DOUBT is directed by John McDonald and features a stellar cast of Roxy veterans.
Leslie Greene stars as Sister Aloysius, a Bronx Catholic school principal who takes matters into her own hands when she begins to suspect that the charismatic Priest Father Flynn, portrayed by Tom Thayer, of having improper contact with one of the students, the first Africian American boy to attend the formerly all white school. She then begins to seek out proof in order to confirm her suspicions. She finds it in some innocent remarks from Kendall Anne Thompson, who as Sister James has the young boy in her class, and from statements made by the boys mother Adriane Wiley-Hatfield, who as Mrs. Miller, rounds out the cast.
Doubt showcases the entire spectrum of human emotion from joy, to suspicion, to hatred, and all the delicious shades of gray in between. The genius of the play is in the language it uses to mask the delicate situation, while at the same time making things all too clear.
Sparks fly throughout the play between Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn, Sister Aloysius and Mrs. Miller, and even timid Sister James. One particularly hot moment Father Flynn asks Sister Aloysius “Where is your compassion?” she responds “Nowhere you can get at it.”
Doubt only plays for three more performances: Tonight at 7:00pm, and Friday and Saturday, at 8:00pm. Tickets are $15.00 (adults) and $10.00 (ages 13 and under) and may be reserved online at www.roxyregionaltheatre.org, by phone at 931-645-7699, or at the theatre during regular box office hours (9:00am-2:00pm, weekdays).
Doubt was originally produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club on November 23rd, 2004; Originally produced on Broadway by Carole Shorenstein Hays, MTC Productions, Roger Berlind and Scott Rudin on March 31st, 2005. The play is presented through special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
Warning: the plot contains spoilers
The play is set in the fictional St. Nicholas Church School, in the Bronx, during the fall of 1964. It opens with a sermon by Father Flynn, a beloved and progressive parish priest, addressing the importance of uncertainty (“Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty,” he says).
The school’s principal, Sister Aloysius, a rigidly conservative nun vowed to the order of the Sisters of Charity, insists upon constant vigilance. During a meeting with a younger nun, Sister James, it becomes clear that Aloysius harbors a deep mistrust toward her students, her fellow clergymen, and society in general. Naïve and impressionable, James is easily upset by Aloysius’ severe manner and harsh criticism.
Aloysius and Father Flynn are put into direct conflict when she learns from Sister James that the priest met one-on-one with Donald Miller, St. Nicholas’ first African-American student. Mysterious circumstances lead her to believe that sexual misconduct occurred.
In a private meeting purportedly regarding the Christmas pageant, Aloysius, in the presence of Sister James, openly confronts Flynn with her suspicions. He angrily denies wrong-doing, insisting that he was disciplining Donald for drinking altar wine, claiming to have been protecting the boy from harsher punishment. James is relieved by his explanation. Flynn’s next sermon is on the evils of gossip.
Aloysius, unsatisfied with Flynn’s story, meets with Donald’s mother, Mrs. Miller. Despite Aloysius’s attempts to shock her, Mrs. Miller says she supports her son’s relationship with Flynn. She ignores Aloysius’s accusations. Before departing, she hints that Donald may be “that way”, and that Mr. Miller may be beating him consequently.
Father Flynn eventually threatens to remove Aloysius from her position if she does not back down. Aloysius informs him that she previously phoned the last parish he was assigned to, discovering a history of past infringements.
After declaring his innocence, the priest begins to plead with her, at which point she leaves the office, disgusted. Flynn calls the bishop to apply for transfer, where, later, he receives a promotion and is instated as pastor of a nearby parochial school.
Learning this, Aloysius reveals to Sister James that the decisive phone call was a fabrication. She confides to James: “I have doubts… I have such doubts!”
Editor’s Note: The plot summary is courtesy of the English Language Wikipedia
About Tom Thayer
TOM THAYER (Father Brendan Flynn) has been Managing Director of the Roxy Regional Theatre since its inception in 1983. Training includes Austin Peay State University and Lambuth College, and he is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, NYC. While living in New York, he appeared in productions of Godspell, Trelawny of the Wells and A Month in the Country. Since returning to Clarksville he has created the roles of Sam Davis in The Noble Heart, Dorian in Mr. Dorian Gray, Sir, and played a wide variety of roles including The Russian in Chess, Don Lockwood in Singin’ In The Rain, the young priest in Mass Appeal and the young actor in A Life in the Theatre. Tom was last seen on the Roxy stage as Floyd Collins in Floyd Collins. With Artistic Director John McDonald, he created the Roxy’s Professional Company and serves as a director of the Roxy Regional School of the Arts and co-director of the Parks and Rec Summer Playhouse.
About Leslie Greene
LESLIE GREENE (Sister Aloysius Beauvier), who was most recently seen as Gertrude in Hamlet, began her career at the Roxy in 1984 during its fourth production, Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic. Since then, she has performed in numerous plays here at the Roxy, including Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Headin’ South, Goin’ North for the Fourth Annual Clarksville Writers Conference, All Quiet on the Western Front and, written especially for her by Artistic Director John McDonald, Nora Witzel: A Very Curious Fella. She now resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and would like to thank her husband, Jeff, for his love and support.
About Kendall Anne Thompson
KENDALL ANNE THOMPSON (Sister James) is delighted to be returning as a member of the Roxy’s company this season, following performances in Hamlet (Ophelia), A Christmas Carol (Belle/Mary), Around the World in 80 Days (Aouda), SHOUT! (Green Girl) and Dracula (Vampire Girl). Other credits include: Jerry Springer: the Opera with SpeakEasy Stage Company; RENT (Joanne), Machinal (The Young Woman), The Quick-Change Room (Ludmilla), First Lady Suite (Amelia Earhart) with The Boston Conservatory; Alice in Wonderland (Alice), The Long Christmas Dinner (Lucia), The Man Who Came to Dinner (June Stanley) with James Whitmore and the Peterborough Players. She is a recent graduate of the B.F.A. musical theatre program at The Boston Conservatory. Thank you Roxy Regional Theatre for this wonderful opportunity, and a very special thank you to all friends, family and teachers for their love, prayers and support!
About Adriane Wiley-Hatfield
ADRIANE WILEY-HATFIELD (Mrs. Muller) first began working at the Roxy during a summer theatre workshop offered over 15 years ago. She took an instant liking to the theatre and has participated in some way ever since, performing in several productions at the Roxy to include: Nunsense, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Fantasticks, The Noble Heart and Dorothy Dix: Speaks! Other professional credits include Love Ain’t Supposed to Hurt (Clarksville) and From the Depths of Hell (Chicago, Illinois). Ms. Hatfield’s love for theatre and performing continues through commercial work, including an appearance in a Texaco commercial, and film work. She was in a Peabody Series of films for education and will be making her movie debut in Deadline, due in theatres in February 2012. She is dedicating her performance in Doubt to her mother, Galen Wiley, who was a source of her strength and enlightenment.
About Director John McDonald
JOHN McDONALD is the founder and Artistic Director of the Roxy Regional Theatre. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, as an actor John has worked with the New York Shakespeare Festival, Macbeth with James Earl Jones; Long Wharf Theatre, A Lion in Winter with Ralph Waite; and productions of Long Days Journey Into Night (James); Macbeth (Macbeth); Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (George); and numerous others. As an instructor, he has taught theatre at the American Academy, The Rhodes School, The Dwight School, Hewitt, and is the creator of the Roxy Saturday Workshop, an acting program for young performers. Writing and production credits include, among others, Jekyll and Hyde, The Red Badge of Courage, Dorothy Dix: Speaks!, Nora Witzel: A Very Curious Fella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, All Quiet on the Western Front, Poe Unearthed and Headin’ South, Goin’ North for the Fourth Annual Clarksville Writers Conference.