Students looking for a chilling night do not have to stay outside in the cold this weekend. They should head to Theatre-in-the-Round to view the suspense thriller, “Wait Until Dark,” presented by the Department of Communication and The Arts and the SHU Arts Council.
“Wait Until Dark” is a play by Frederick Knott, directed by Professor Deirdre Yates, which focuses on a blind housewife named Susy Hendrix, whose apartment is infiltrated by three conmen. The conmen try to manipulate Susy into finding a doll that has been filled with heroin and has found its way into her possession.
Susy unknowingly places herself in tremendous danger when the conmen to convince her that her husband is in trouble and that finding the doll is the key to helping him.
Professor Deirdre Yates said that she decided to direct “Wait Until Dark” because she had previously directed murder mysteries for the summer theatre at Seton Hall, but the budget for that program was cut.
“I missed doing murder mysteries,” Yates said. “I wanted to do something suspenseful with the students, and I love the movie.”
Yates described the play as “very heavy technically” because of the blindness aspect, although she had previously directed a show with a lead actor playing a blind man. “It was not totally new to me, but it’s always different and difficult [to do],” Yates said.
Senior Nicole Dalton will be playing Susy, a role that required her to portray a blind woman.
Dalton said the process was “challenging and painful because of the bruises from really knocking into things to figure out how to actually knock things over.”
Yates described that working in the dark and with blindfolds requires actors to learn their lines earlier than usual to focus on working on this aspect of production.
“[Professor Yates] blindfolded me for the character, and it was interesting to learn to listen a lot more, even in regular life,” Dalton said.
In addition to the blindness aspect of the play, light and sound effects play a large part of the production. The theatre is even plunged into total darkness in one scene.
“I’ve never done a play with complete darkness before,” Dalton said. “For an audience, you don’t know what’s going on, and then all you can see is a match flicker of light. It’s very suspenseful.”
Senior Peter Chacanias plays Harry Roat, Jr., one of the conmen who plot to get the doll from Susy. His rehearsal process has been primarily focused on developing his character.
“It’s mostly about getting into character,” Chacanias said. “He’s a little more sinister than other characters, so it’s getting into that mindset…It’s a complete break from who I am as a person. I’m playing something that’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done and who is so different from me. That’s been the best part.”
Chacanias described the play as “very physical” because a lot of the blocking is based around cues of phones, doorbells, etc.
“It’s three convicts going in and out of the apartment,” Chacanias described. “It’s physical and fast-paced, and a lot of the lighting and sound are the cues for the actors.”
Chacanias added that this play was different from others he has seen at Seton Hall.
“It’s dark, kind of gloomy and has a general tone that is more suspenseful than what’s been done since I’ve been here,” Chacanias said.
Stage Manager Jennifer Graham-Macht described the hard work of the small cast and described the play as “really intriguing.”
“It keeps you on the edge of your seat,” Graham-Macht said.
Yates described the production as a being a “fun diversion from the end of semester cram and crunch… It’s only one weekend and it’s an opportunity to support Seton Hall Theatre.”
The performances are held on Dec. 9, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m., in the Theatre-in-the-Round.
Brittany Biesiada can be reached at email@example.com.