Thursday, August 1, 2019

12 Angry Jurors

The Central Florida Community Arts production of 12 Angry Jurors is a modern day take on 12 Angry Men which is a courtroom drama written by Reginald Rose which was originally broadcast on Television, was then produced as a play and then made into a movie starring Henry Fonda in 1957. I sat in on a dress rehearsal for the play which is being staged in the historic courtroom inside the Orange County Regional History Center. The play is about 12 jurors deliberating about a homicide case.

This jury rather than just being men, was a fair mix of men and woman with an ethnic blend. It seemed to be an open and shut case; an 18-year old boy on trial for the stabbing and murder of his own father. Twelve Jurors were shoved in a hot, bleak, room in mid-summer New York, and all assumed to be in agreement until the votes rolled in: 11 – guilty, 1 – not guilty. Tempers grew short as the clock ticks and the temperature rises. Can they all agree on one person’s fate?

Seated center stage like Christ in the last supper was Elaitheia Quinn the female dissenting juror who saw holes in the prosecutions case. Her shadow of doubt made some angry and yet her arguments gradually swayed others. The underlying theme was that race played a role in many people assuming the youth on trial was guilty. Terry Olson did a good job as a level headed business man who wanted civility during the deliberations. Chelsey Panisch was a polished ad exec who was primarily concerned about getting back to her job. Rose Ryan Lamarre and Rich Somsky both shone as racists whose views bubbled to the surface as the defendant's guilt slipped away.

The historic Orange County courtroom had the saying Equal and Exact Justice for ALL Men emblazoned in the upper moldings. The setting was perfect and the drama intense. The sound of rain heightening the tense scenes was so natural, since it rains just about every day her in Orlando in the summer and the juror's complaints about the heat also seemed well justified.

With a president daily spewing racist rants on twitter, this play is just as relevant today that as it was back in the 1950s when it was written.  The country is boiling and a viscous anger underlies every exchange on the capitol. People seem to be in a manic and angry rush at all times.  Orlando seems to exist in a bubble but are we really removed from all the hatred that surrounds us? Shouldn't the frog jump out of the pot before the water boils?

Brandishing a switchblade in the jury room seemed even more upsetting after the horror Orlando has gone through in 2016 when a maniac brought an assault riffle into an Orlando nightclub killing 49 people. This is going to be an intense show that you really shouldn't miss. In an ideal world level heads and compassion can perhaps overshadow bigotry and hate.

Tickets for 12 Angry Jurors  are $20 for general admission and $40 for jury box seats.
Orange County Regional History Center (65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, Florida 32801).

Thursday, August 1 – 7:30pm 
Friday, August 2 – 7:30pm 
Saturday, August 3 – 7:30pm 
Sunday, August 4 – 3:00pm 
Thursday, August 8 – 7:30pm 
Friday, August 9 – 7:30pm 
Saturday, August 10 – 7:30pm 
Sunday, August 11 – 3:00pm

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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