Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Wait Until Dark
Directed by James Cady, this play is surely one of his favorites, too, given the precise and cunning touches he brings to the action. The choreographyback and forth, in and out, light and darkmust be "just so" in this work, and it is "just so" under Cady's hand. The audience was rapt.
We think Owen Reid Callis as Sgt. Carlino is a menacing thug as he lets himself into the Hendrixes' apartment and refrigerator while they're outbut then we meet Thane Kenny as Harry Roat, the really bad guy of the story. Kenny's performance is creepy and realistic. He looks the part, and every move tells us right away that he's not fooling around.
Sam Hendrix (Michael Weppler) has just returned from a trip during which he has accidentally ended up with a woman's doll. Roat wants the doll. The "why" is explained early and to our satisfaction; the "how" Roat will get his hands on the doll is drawn out. Motive is routine (smuggled diamonds); modus operandi is fascinating.
Janine O'Neill Loffelmacher plays Susan Hendrix, the blind homemaker who comes home in the middle of the doll-search plot going on in her apartment. She senses that someone is there but wrongly guesses who. It is just the first of the chilling moments in this cat-and-mouse game between jaded criminals and a woman who is literally in the dark.
Until now I have seen Loffelmacher in mostly comic roles (The Miss Firecracker Contest, Company) and I am happy to report that she brings her signature likability to this dramatic role as well. We're on her side immediately, even despite the fact that we have to like her because she is blind and in grave danger. She's spunky, determined to live up to her husband's high standards and her own for functioning while blind, and capable as can be. She also startles easily. For a little while, only we know that's a perfectly sane response. Loffelmacher handles this very difficult role with seeming ease, on stage nearly the whole time, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Brava.
Micah Linford as Mike Talman gives a steady, credible performance as Sam's old Marine buddy in town for a brief stay. He's a great support for Susan, beleaguered by the comings and goings of the search for a doll and a neighborhood murder investigation. Linford's good looks and steady presence are reassuring. Let's just say it's not his acting that disappoints the audience at the end of act one.
Leedy Corbin as Gloria, the little girl who lives upstairs, is a perfect foil for Susan and delivers her key role with grown-up poise.
As Alan Arkin did in the movie, Kenny should get three acknowledgements in the program for his roles as Roat, Harry Roat, Sr., and Harry Roat, Jr. He also is the Master Carpenter for the ingenious set design by Glenn Pepe. Pepe also gets my vote for lighting designer of the year, a central role in Wait Until Dark.
Through February 11, 2018, at Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW, Albuquerque NM. Performances Friday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.: Additional performances: Sat. February 3, 2 p.m.; Thursday February 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $14 children 12 and under; $18 Students; $21 Seniors; $23 Adults. Flex passes and Season Tickets still available. For information and tickets, visit albuquerquelittletheatre.org, or call 505-242-4750.