WEST ORANGE, NJ—The West Orange High School Drama Department's play, Twelve Angry Jurors, is quite a departure from their recent Fall productions, and most certainly a far cry from their Spring Musical. Twelve Angry Jurors takes place in the 1950’s and tells the story of a 19 year old boy convicted of murdering his father.
This play is vastly different from past shows because it is an ensemble piece, meaning it includes a very large cast. “Ms. Van Dyke likes to alternate ensemble pieces with small cast pieces, as well as serious pieces with comedy shows,” says Jalen Lesly, who plays Juror 12.
Last year the Drama Department performed Lost In Yonkers, more of a comedy piece. This year, Sandra Van Dyke, Drama Department Director, aimed for a drama with a large cast, compared to the six-member cast of Lost In Yonkers.
Another struggle the actors had to face was getting into the mindset and time period of the 1950’s. Michael Leonardis, who plays the Foreman, said that it takes research and a lot of practice and discipline to get into character. Repetition and preparation are all contributing factors to help the actors get into character and get into the mindset of: “What would I do in that time period?”
Amber McCleese, who performs as Juror 4, also agrees with the sentiment that being in a play is completely different. Musicals are centered on dancing, staging, and music. However, a play is focused completely on immersing oneself into the characters and the plot and conveying emotion. It’s a completely different energy, she says.
The whole cast, after practicing every day for two months, is currently putting on a terrific presentation that is showcasing their talents and the tremendous effort put in by the actors to represent a moment in time that caused all of them to grow as individuals. A final performance of Twelve Angry Jurors is scheduled for Saturday, November 2 at 7:30 pm.