Saturday, February 7, 2015

Doubt, A Parable leaves the audience questioning the truth long after the curtain dropped.

I went to the final dress rehearsal for "Doubt, A Parable" based on a. book by John Patrick Shanley. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama follows a Catholic high school priest’s battle for truth and personal integrity. It is produced by Beth Marshall Presents and directed by Beth Marshall in the historic Winter Garden Theatre (160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden FL).

When the theater went dark, Father Flynn (Michael Wanzie) began his sermon in the isle at the back of the theater. He spoke about how the country pulled together after John F Kennedy was assassinated.  The moving monologue rallied the audience behind the father. He was clearly a well loved man among his parish. Michael Wanzie seemed perfectly cast for this role. I've seen him in past productions and he always seems to be in roles where he must question the faith he grew up with.

Sister James (Chelsey Panisch) is a young and enthusiastic teacher loves to get the children excited about history. Her superior, Sister Aloysius (Ginger Lee McDermott) is a hard edged disciplinarian. She views every situation with suspicion and doubt and advises Sister James to do the same. Eventually a situation arises in which the one black student in the school is called away for a meeting with Father Flynn. The boy returned from the meeting acting strange and he had the scent of liquor on his breath.

Sister Aloysius assumes the worst and begins a personal vendetta to expose Father Flynn as the monster she imagines he is. Her black and white view of right and wrong is greyed by the Fathers compassion and a simple straight forward explanation. He gives another sermon, this time about gossip. In this parable he has a woman cut open a down pillow on a city building roof top. Feathers fly everywhere in the wind. She is told to repair the damage and recover the feathers. That of course is impossible, the damage is done.

The play haunted me on the entire drive home. Without an admission of guilt, there is always doubt. The father was clearly a gifted orator who cared for the children in his charge. Yet sister Aloysius's steadfast conviction at times swayed my view of the man. He clearly had human weaknesses. The show was just an hour and a half long but the questions still linger.

Mark Your Calendars!
February 6 - 22, 2015 Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm Industry Night: Monday, February 16 at 8pm
Tickets: $25 ($21 seniors/students)
Industry Nite Feb. 16th -$15 (post show cast meet/greet Pilars Martini

Garden Theatre Box Office
160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden
407-877-GRDN (4736)

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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