Anna Hobbs plays a blind woman in the suspenseful 'Wait Until Dark'.
Les Ober, the director of the City Repertory Theatre’s production of "Wait Until Dark," remembers when he first saw the show on Broadway.
“It was in the '60s with Lee Remick, who made this role,” Ober said. “And I said, ‘Oh my God, this is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen live.’”
Ober and the cast will attempt to keep the audience on the edge of its seats from start to finish.
“The timing and pacing is not unlike Agatha Christie or Alfred Hitchcock,” Ober said.
The blocking, which is the positioning and movement of the actors, has to be precise, because the plot depends on it, Ober said.
“If you start to mess up the timing and the pacing, the play will go nowhere,” he said. “It’s got to scare these people.”
The play’s success is most dependent on the performance of Anna Hobbs, who plays the Remick role, a blind woman named Susy Hendrix. Ober said many of the theater goers will remember the 1967 movie version, in which Audrey Hepburn played Susy. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be frightened watching CRT’s version, especially during one scene which is totally in the dark, except for an occasional burning match.
Hobbs is performing in her third CRT show. This role is particularly challenging, she said.
“If I put too much focus on my lines, my focus on being convincingly blind may slip,” she said. “If I put too much focus on that, it could mess up my blocking, or I could lose my character. It really is a fine balance, trying to be believably blind as well as juggle all the usual pieces of the role. My hope is just familiarizing myself will make that a whole lot easier.”
Mike Palau, who plays Sgt. Carlino, one of three villains in the play, said Hobbs pulls it off.
“The idea that we’re dealing with is a blind lady having to go through all this. Imagine not having your sight, and all of sudden, you have to defend your life and your livelihood. That’s incredible,” Palau said. “Essentially, what we’re trying to show you is she’s reacting without using her eyes. She’s hearing sound, she’s feeling things, she smells. All those things have to be portrayed. It’s a very unique situation, very cool to see it done the right way.”
“If you start to mess up the timing and the pacing, the play will go nowhere. It’s got to scare these people.”
LES OBER, director
There is an early scene in which the three criminals are in her apartment and freeze while she walks around. She gets very close to the men, so they can’t even breathe, and the audience won’t be able to either, Ober said.
Beau Wade and Danno Waddell play the other villains. Bruce Popielarski plays Susy’s husband. Nick Sok also has a role. April Whaley is the stage manager. And 12-year-old Isabella Bond plays the key role of upstairs neighbor Gloria.
“In the beginning, she’s a spoiled brat,” Isabella said of her character. “But she has some character development. Susy ends up fully trusting me.”
Isabella, who attends Ormond Beach Middle School, said she has performed in musical theater, but this is her first role with serious lines.
“She becomes the unsung hero,” Ober said. “She helps Susy do things she can’t do.”
The show will be performed at CRT, 160 Cypress Point Parkway, Suite B207, on successive weekends Jan. 21-23 and Jan. 28-30 with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.