THIS SHOW RUNS APPROX. 2-1/4 HOURS, including intermission.
THE HOUSE OPENS 45 MINUTES BEFORE CURTAIN. You may want to arrive early to enjoy the exhibit in our art gallery with refreshments ranging from coffee and cookies to beer and wine.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: Join the company of Wait Until Dark for a post-show discussion following the Sunday matinee on September 23.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION: The Sunday, September 23rd performance will be audio-described, based on reservations. Click here for a description of this and other access services at TRP
About the Show
(company members are listed at the bottom, following the interview with the director)
Alone, blinded in an accident, and threatened by criminals in her New York apartment, Susan is vulnerable; but she’s no victim. As menace looms on her own turf, the gutsy woman plots her way out of disaster. But first, she must wait until dark.
Like Susan, this play has staying power. Since its sensational Broadway debut in 1966 starring Lee Remick, Frederick Knott’s classic thriller has undergone numerous revivals and adaptations, with successful London runs, a film version with Audrey Hepburn; and stage revivals including a 1998 staging with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarentino.
TRP’s 67th season opener features Jeffrey Hatcher’s 2013 adaptation, which honors all the chills and suspense of the original story, refreshingly recast into the 1940s.
Hatcher’s approach “reminds CGI-infected audiences that a few shadows, a shiny knife, and compelling characters can still go a long way to create suspense,” said Entertainment Weekly. “WAIT UNTIL DARK earns its climax through enthralling, layered characters.”
Hatcher’s script isn’t the only adaptation this company is working with. Written for proscenium, the WAIT UNTIL DARK script provides plenty of intriguing puzzles for adapting the staging to TRP’s uniquely challenging, inspiring and at times confounding arena space. Director Alissa Blaeser gives us a look behind that effort.
Interview with the Director
Q: We are excited to have you on board as director! Even though this is your first go-round directing at TRP, you are well familiar with our space, having worked here in SM and production capacities. As an artist, what do you enjoy about working at TRP?
BLAESER: TRP is so unique. Working in the round is challenging and fun, and it’s such a cool space and atmosphere to be in. I’ve loved the process and the people at TRP since I started working here back in 2009. I’m really excited to be directing my first show here.
Q: What appeals to you about this story?
BLAESER: I’ve wanted to direct this show (and specifically this version of it) since I read it a few years ago. My father is legally blind, which gives me a really strong draw to this show, and definitely brings a unique perspective to the table. I also love a story about a strong woman, and directing mysteries or thrillers always excites me. I like to get the audience invested, and like to get them so wrapped up in the story they feel like they’re a part of it. In the very last scene of the show, they will definitely know how it feels to be, well let’s just say, seeing through someone else’s eyes.
Q: Talk about your approach to directing an actor (assuming your actor is a sighted person) to play this part convincingly. Are you working with consultants to help her with adaptations?
BLAESER: This by far has been one of my favorite things. Before we could even jump into blocking rehearsals I knew we had to lay the foundation down about how a blind person moves, how they interact with their surroundings and the spaces they’re moving in. After the read through, we had a few rehearsals with just Heather (who is playing Susan) to establish that. I had a lot of videos for her to watch about training with a cane. Even though Susan only uses her cane once in the entire show (because a blind person doesn’t use their cane in their own home, they know it too well), we spent an entire night learning how to use it properly. I wanted her to experience what someone who can’t see does every single day. We even went out on the street with the cane to use it outside. Think about trying to cross a street without being able to see and nobody there to help you. It’s a little terrifying. It was very important to me that the way she moves, and the way she listens and navigates be accurate. She’s spent a lot of time blindfolded. She also has homework every single day; doing at least one thing without sight. Have you ever tried to fold laundry blindfolded? What shirt is this? Is it inside out? What color is it? Try going through a door blindfolded. Try going down your stairs or doing the dishes. The simplest tasks become amazingly difficult. Every night at rehearsal she spends some time blindfolded. We’ve also done exercises with a few other cast members. We spent a lot of time with both Heather and Chris (who plays Roat) blindfolded, developing the last scene of the show. And I don’t want to give too much away, but a lot of the work they did together with blindfolds on has made it into the show. I also feel lucky, only in this instance, to have grown up in a house with a blind person. My dad is not completely blind, he still has some extremely minimal sight. And it has been a gradual loss. Susan’s blindness is total and happens all at once, not something that has changed over time. Another night during the first week of rehearsal we blindfolded Heather, made her navigate her way to my car, and drove her to my parents house without telling her where we were going. We made her get inside the house on her own, up the stairs, and sat her on their couch-all while my parents silently watched. Once I had her remove the blindfold she was able to talk with him and ask questions about how he does things, and ask my mom questions on how she lives with it and helps him day to day. It gave her a lot of insight and was incredibly beneficial. I think having the amazing man I do as a Father really has made me want to get this right. And Heather is going an amazing job.
Q: You are working from Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the original Frederick Knott script. Hatcher resets the play from its original 1960s setting to the 1940s. Are there dated elements in the story that you/Hatcher feel lend themselves to resetting the show in this earlier time? What were your considerations in choosing the Hatcher version?
BLAESER: I loved that by Hatcher moving the play to 1944 instead of the 60s, it puts us right in the thick of WWII. All the men have more backstory that tells us why they aren’t fighting in the war. Another big advantage to this version is he’s made it a little less complicated than the original. There are less scene changes. Act I is made up of two scenes, and Act II runs straight through. The original has 5-6 total scenes. Doing this show in the round with this set will be tricky enough, so the more simplistic the script is itself, the easier things become. There is also one large change that I REALLY love, but I can’t tell you about it because it gives something away. But people who are familiar with the original may notice.
Q: The play takes place in a basement apartment in Greenwich Village. Talk about the challenges/advantages of staging this show in the round.
BLAESER: OH. MY. GOSH. This show was NOT written to be staged in the round. This show has so many elements we had to get really, really creative with. There are so many things that need WALLS, which is not a thing we have. Reading the script again while picturing TRP in my head got really interesting. The thoughts went like this… “Ok. I have one wall in this space. I guess the blinds have to go there. Oh wait. The closet. That is what will have to go there. Hang on now. What about the fridge? Where do I put the fridge? And the fuse boxes? And photographs? And those windows?!?!” It was the first time I couldn’t picture a set while I was reading a script. Thankfully, we’ve got a clever set designer, and through a lot of problem solving we figured out where things would go, and what elements were most important to telling the story. We did lose a couple cool visuals from the show that work a lot better on a proscenium stage, but there are other interesting things we’ve done to make it effective and fun for the audience.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say?
BLAESER: I’m really excited about this show and really impressed with all the work the actors and designers are putting in. I can’t wait to start getting the technical elements added. The lights and sound specifically are going to truly make this shine. I really hope the audience enjoys this one as much as I have putting it all together. It’s truly been amazing, and I’m eagerly anticipating opening night.
Gloria: Alex Abdelwahed
Susan: Heather Burmeister
Roat: Christopher J. DeVaan
Mike: Ryan D. Maddux
Carlino: Andy Schnabel
Sam: Parker Shook
ARTISTIC & PRODUCTION STAFF
Director: Alissa Blaeser
Set Designer: Devyn Becker
Costume Designer: Rebecca Karstad
Lighting Designer: Sadie Ward
Prop Designer: Roxanne Miller
Composer/Sound Designer: Robert Hoffman
Stage Manager: April Blaeser