PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Little Theatre (PLT) will host its second performance of the expanded 2021/2022 theatrical season. They open curtain with four performances of “Angel Street,” which is a stage adaptation of the black and white, classic film Gaslight.
In the story, cast members and volunteers take guests back to 19th Century London, in the home of the Manninghams, where an insidious plot unfolds over the course of a dramatic thriller perfect or the spooky season.
According to Concord Theatricals, which licenses the show, “As the curtain rises, all appears to be the essence of Victorian tranquility. It is soon apparent, however, that Mr. Manningham, a suavely handsome man, is slowly driving his gentle, devoted wife, Bella, to the brink of insanity with an insinuating kindness that masks more sinister motives. While he is out, Mrs. Manningham has an unexpected caller: amiable, paternal Inspector Rough from Scotland Yard. Rough is convinced that Mr. Manningham is a homicidal maniac wanted for a murder committed fifteen years earlier in this very house. Gradually, the inspector restores Bella’s confidence in herself and, as the evidence against Manningham unfolds, the author has built and sustained some of the most brilliant, suspenseful sequences in modern theatre.”
The shows will open with a speaker from the Domestic Violence Shelter, who will explain the process of gaslighting in a more serious fashion to highlight the seriousness of this form of abuse. She will also suggest resources and guests will be encouraged to remember the National Domestic Violence hotline, which is 1. 800. 799. 7233, should they should ever need it. The theatre wants to spread awareness as much as present a great show.
The show was selected by PLT Board of Governors Vice President Kayla Parker, who is assisting in the direction for director Staci Slaughter. The two have been working hard to craft a meaningful story that highlights this serious issue and also thrills the audience by showing the worst of it.
The cast consists of many seasoned actors and a fresher face or two. The cast includes Greg Bauer and Sandy Sturgill Dutiel as the leads, along with Nate Marcum, Jordan Stone, and Brianna Shadox as supporting characters, along with a couple cameos. The stage managing is being handled by theatre veteran Eva Martin, costuming by Kerri Davis, set by Jim Humphrey, design by Jim Humphrey, Joseph Pratt, and Kerri Davis, and tech by Joseph Pratt and Eric Musser.
A lot has gone into making this production top-notch, including a partnership with Unique Antiques Warehouse, which is supporting the show as a sponsor, by lending expensive antique furnishings.
Dutiel is returning to the stage after a break from the PLT. She says that this role is a little different from what she normally does.
“I am normally playing more comedic roles and this is definitely not Adelaide in Guys and Dolls,” Dutiel said. “It is a dark place to go. Sometimes, I have struggled with that. I am not one of those people who is an angry person, so when that has to come out, I have to prepare for that.”
Dutiel appreciates the theatre’s serious take on the plot and says that she wants the audience to be prepared.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of manipulation and I think that is where I draw the most from. I feel like this is how I breathe life into this character, because I’ve gone through some real life experiences that have made me connect with her in a very real way,” Dutiel said. “You’ll love the ending. I love the ending. The ending is what makes memorizing 108 pages of dialogue worth it for me. The ending is everything, so make sure you have your popcorn and water and are in here for this show.”
This is but one show of five this season. They opened with the “War of the Worlds,” are currently on “Gaslight,” will spread Christmas cheer with “A Tuna Christmas,” will groove to “Footloose,” and will close the season with the strong classic, “12 Angry Men,” featuring only female actors.
Guests are encourage to attend the performances, not only for the wonderful production with amazing talent and a beautiful set and design, but also to see the continued updates to the theatre. The outside project sponsored by the Richard D Marting Foundation will light up the corner and spread music for the first time. Additionally, guests will see major progress on the Barbara G Glockner House renovation.
The Portsmouth Little Theatre is a 501©3 non-profit theatrical outlet with no paid staff and volunteer support. Anyone may reach the theatre at any time by calling 740.353.7034. Show and season tickets are available at pltlive.com. The theatre is at 1117 Lawson Street. Guests may arrive at 7 to purchase tickets and check in. Showtime starts at 7:30 p.m. Gaslight will run October 22, 23, 29, and 30. Audition dates for “A Tuna Christmas” will be October 26 and 27 at the PLT, between 7 and 9 p.m.