‘A Few Good Men’
Audiences will be presented a moral quandary when Hawkeye Community Theater presents the drama “A Few Good Men” at 7 p.m. June 3-7 and at 2 p.m. on June 8.
“There is not always a clear line between right and wrong,” said director Dylan Drummond. “We are considering the audience like a jury and presenting the idea to them. In the story, there is a verdict at the end, but we want audiences to ask themselves, was it the right verdict?”
Written by Aaron Sorkin, “A Few Good Men” was first produced on Broadway in 1989. It focuses on a team of military lawyers assigned to a court-martial proceeding as the defense team for a pair of United States Marines accused of murder. In the course of the trial, they uncover a high-level conspiracy and challenge the idea of absolute adherence to orders issued by the chain of command.
Sorkin adapted his work into a screenplay for the 1992 movie directed by Rob Reiner and starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.
In the local production, casting brought new faces to the stage, as well as drawing on returning favorites. Roger Porter will make his acting debut, playing Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson, a witness within the chain of command.
“He’s the kind of guy that tries to make sense of everything,” Porter said, “even though he is pressured by his commanding officer to do the wrong thing.”
Returning performer Brent Nelson will be playing Lt. Sam Weinberg, a member of the defense team.
“He is a driver of the morality of the story,” Nelson said. “Even as soldiers who must adhere to orders given, you have to still fight for the little guy. You are still held accountable as an individual.”
Another experienced actor returning to the stage rather than hanging out in the background and giving orders as a director will be Michael Shoopman. He will play Col. Nathan Jessep, the key role made famous by Jack Nicholson.
“He’s a complex character,” Shoopman said. “I don’t think he’s inherently evil, he just gets a bad rap.”
Jessep is a man who gets caught up in the military culture, Shoopman said. He fully believes in fulfilling his mission and defending the nation at all costs. The regrettable loss of a private or two is a price he is willing to pay.
“He has an ego,” Shoopman said, “but at the same time he’s no slouch. He’s earned it. He is a real strong character and definitely is the antagonist.”
Another strong character is Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway, played by Susan Helling, also a returning performer. Galloway is the driving force behind the defense team, pushing to ensure the two accused Marines are properly defended by the protagonist, Lt. Daniel Kaffee.
“She does not want anyone’s lack of skills messing with her plan,” Helling said. “She has a lot of gumption and sometimes when the chips are down she’s going after something, I don’t know if I would go on but Jo certainly would.”
Such absolute dedication and drive is what really pushes the drama forward, Drummond said. It really brings an intensity to the show that hopefully will grab the audiences and make them think.
Ultimately, though, Drummond said, he hopes the audience walks away entertained.
“I hope they feel as if they’ve been taken to another place,” he said.