Scotch’n’Soda performs serious courtroom drama
On Feb. 13 and 14, Scotch’n’Soda put on three performances of A Few Good Men, Aaron Sorkin’s play that was first produced on Broadway in 1989 and later adapted into a screenplay for the 1992 film. The play follows a trio of trial lawyers who uncover a high-level military cover-up after the death of a marine, William Santiago, while he is being given a “Code Red” — a “training” by his comrades given when a soldier is judged not to be fit — by fellow marines Harold Dawson and Louden Downey.
The Scotch’n’Soda actors did a spectacular job in matching their own abilities to the roles they had to play. Perhaps the most deserving of special mention is Tom Pike, a junior psychology and English major who played Lt. Jonathan Kendrick. Pike used a southern accent for his portrayal of Kendrick, a hard-nosed Marine who only believed in two things: God and the Corps. He also led the scene in the play in which the four leaders of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta corps stand at attention and shout the Marine Code — “Unit, Corps, God, Country” — at the top of their lungs. This was a very important scene as it showcased the strict code of honor and loyalty that all Marines — Dawson and Downey included — lived by, and the entire scene ran without a hitch.
In addition, leading men Josh Jelin (Daniel Kaffee), a senior mathematical sciences and business administration major, and Alex DiClaudio (Nathan Jessup), a senior economics major, along with Shannon Deep (Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway), a junior humanities and arts major, nailed their characters’ personalities. As the brutal but well-intentioned Galloway, Deep took her performance to a new level, showing off her acting depth by showcasing her character’s steadfast resolve, yet obvious inexperience extremely well.
Sorkin adapted the stage version of the show for film three years after its debut. The film, which was nominated for five Academy Awards, showcased an all-star cast featuring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kevin Bacon, among others. Nicholson’s memorable line, “You can’t handle the truth!” was voted as the 29th greatest movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute.
Jelin, a long time member of Scotch’n’Soda, spoke about his role and Wheelahan’s vision for the play. “It wasn’t Tom Cruise that drew me to the role, that’s for sure. I was really excited when I heard we were doing A Few Good Men, and this was a role I thought I could perform well in, so I auditioned and ran with it,” Jelin said, and indeed, Jelin did a great job demonstrating Kaffee’s eventual understanding of the large stage he was meant to perform on. He transformed his character from an immature jock who cares more about softball than about his clients to a successful trial lawyer.
Such a well-known and well-respected film obviously brings challenges to those who attempt to replicate it. Director Chris Wheelahan, a sophomore information systems major, was aware of the impact such a high profile film could have on his actors and prepared for it.
“I told them at the first rehearsal that they were banned from watching the movie until we were done. In theater, it’s a big thing that you don’t want to imitate what others have done, and I wanted them to develop their own characters. I think they did a really good job,” Wheelahan said.