SSP Performs Inherit The Wind

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Dick Pack (Left) as Matthew Harrison Brady and Steve Caporiccio as Henry Drummond tower over Dawson Gehrke as Howard Blair in rehearsal for Inherit the Wind.

This past weekend Second Street Players (SSP) presented Inherit The Wind, the first of two weekend performances at the Riverfront Theatre in downtown Milford. Another round of performances for this show will be held at 8pm on Friday, February 13 and Saturday, February 14 and at 3pm on Sunday, February 15.

Inherit The Wind is a fictionalized account of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” during which John T. Scopes stood trial for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to a high school science class contrary to a Tennessee state law. The characters of Matthew Harrison Brady, Henry Drummond, Bertram Cates and E.K. Hornbeck correspond to the historical figures of William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, Scopes and H. L. Mencken respectively. The debate over creationism versus evolution has contemporary resonance, as evidenced by the play’s numerous revivals and screen adaptations decades after its initial theatrical run.

Director Steve Twilley brings Inherit The Wind to the stage at the Riverfront Theater with a talented cast as he bring this story to life. This will be the ninth show that Twilley has directed, the first was SSP’s “Crimes of the Heart” in 2002.  Most recently he directed “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 2012. All of his directorial efforts have been with Second Street Players except for “Art” which Twilley directed at Possum Point Players in 2009.

Twilley first read and fell in love with “Inherit the Wind” when he was in college and states that the idea of tolerance for differing points of view is what drew him to the play 40 years ago. “Although the play is based upon the actual Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925… [the performance] is not an historic retelling of that case or even a debate between creationism vs. evolution or Darwin’s Origin of the Species vs. the Bible,” commented Twilley. “Rather, “Inherit the Wind” is about an individual’s right to think, even if those thoughts or ideas are unpopular, without having them censored or limited by the government or others in authority.”

In addition to being entertained by what Twilley states is a cast of high level talent, he also hopes the play gives audience members a reason to reflect on how we all can be more accepting of differing views and beliefs, whether or not we ultimately find agreement.  “We live in politically polarizing times and the play’s message about holding one’s own beliefs while being more tolerant of those with opposing beliefs has as much value today as it did in 1925 and 1955,” said Twilley.

Actor Steve Caporiccio plays Henry Drummond in the performance, a character loosely based on Clarance Darrow, an attorney and member of the American Civil Liberties Union that defended John T. Scopes. He has been performing on stage since 1976, working “professionally, semi-professionally and non-professionally” in Houston in many different theaters until 2007. Caporiccio describes Drummond as a smart lawyer that looks forward to the opportunity to butt heads with his opponent, Matthew Harrison Brady. Brady is a character based loosely on William Jennings Bryan, an active proponent of banning the teaching of evolution in public schools and counsel for the World Christian Fundamentals Association during the Scopes Trial.

“I look forward to my ‘debates’ with Dick at rehearsals,” commented Caporiccio. “I identify a lot with the character and with the idea that he is willing to be unpopular and to take unpopular stands because of what he believes is right.”

Performances will be held at the Riverfront Theatre in downtown Milford on Walnut Street at 8pm on Friday, February 13 and Saturday, February 14 and at 3pm on Sunday, February 15.Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com secondstreetplayers.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006.