Franklin’s Historic Williamson County Courthouse will provide the unique and totally apropos setting as Studio Tenn Theatre Company’s 2012-13 season continues with Twelve Angry Men, the classic courtroom drama, running October 18-27.
RetirEd Williamson County judge Russ Heldman will preside over the courtroom proceedings as Studio Tenn brings a cast headed by Broadway/TV and film veteran John Schuck and Studio Tenn’s own managing director/Broadway veteran Jake Speck to the unique stage.
"All of us at Studio Tenn are relishing the opportunity to bring this courtroom classic to life in such an authentic setting," Speck says. "The novelty of the venue alone has generated a lot of buzz, but we are especially excited about the opportunity to bring a whole new dimension of immediacy to this one-of-a-kind production.”
“Twelve Angry Men is such a profoundly important piece, both as a staple in the canon of American theatre and also for the way it speaks to our ideas and approaches to justice in our society,” says Matt Logan, Studio Tenn’s artistic director.
Particularly now—during the peak of election season—Logan adds, “how we as Americans make important evaluations and decisions is at the forefront of our collective consciousness.”
Located on the southeast corner of Franklin's town center circle, the Historic Williamson County Courthouse was built in 1858 and has undergone several renovations through the years. With bench-style seating for just over 125, the courtroom setting will challenge the boundaries between actor and audience, taking to a whole new level the interactivity and intimacy for which Studio Tenn's shows have become known.
“Not only are you extra 'up-close and personal' as a member of this audience, but you're also literally part of the show,” said Speck. “The audience and actors will be in the set together. It's going to be a really unique experience—for those watching as well as for those of us on stage—or, rather, 'the floor.'”
Originally written as a teleplay, Twelve Angry Men first aired on CBS in 1954. It was adapted for stage the following year, and made into an iconic film starring Henry Fonda in 1957. It was not performed on Broadway until 2004—incidentally, the same year that judicial business moved from the Historic Williamson County Courthouse to the new Judicial Center on Fourth Avenue.
Speck expressed a huge debt of gratitude to Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long, who was instrumental in securing the old courthouse for Twelve Angry Men—Studio Tenn's second production in an “alternative” venue but its first in a government building. The company made its debut at The Loveless Barn in 2009 with a production of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town.
In another company first, Speck will make his Studio Tenn stage debut in the starring role, famously played by Fonda in the 1957 film. Speck's extensive professional stage and film credits include two years in the Broadway cast of
Jersey Boys and most recently, the role of Steve in the pilot episode of ABC's Nashville.
Legendary screen and stage actor—and Franklin resident—John Schuck will lead the cast along with Speck. Schuck was Daddy Warbucks in Broadway's beloved Annie and a series regular in McMillan & Wife alongside Rock Hudson, Susan Saint James andNancy Walker. His prolific film and television career has included roles in Law and Order, Star Trek, the 1970s’ M*A*S*H movie and much more.
Rounding out the cast are some of Middle Tennessee's finest actors: Cecil Jones, Eric Pasto-Crosby, Henry Haggard, Brandon Hirsch, Garris Wimmer, Jeremy Childs, Chuck Long, Corey Caldwell, Nate Eppler and Derek Whittaker.