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Steven Culp in "Inherit the Wind"

May 24 - June 8, 1974

Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, VA

Playwright by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
Directed by Pat Bernick

Matthew Harrison Brady - Robert Furniss
Henry Drummond - Mac McManus
Rachel Brown - Marcia Bartusiak
Bertram Cates - Fred Jenks III
E. K. Hornbeck - Fran Peterson
Rev. Jeremiah Brown - Bob Burchette
Student - Steven Culp


This courtroom drama is based on the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial," in which a Tennessee teacher was charged with teaching that man evolved from apes, instead of state-mandated Creationism. The drama contains a powerful confrontation between a character based on William Jennings Bryan, who believes only what he reads in the Bible, and another based on Clarence Darrow, who defends science and open intellectual inquiry.

(February 27, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

"Inherit the Wind" will be the last show of the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach's winter season.

(May 15, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

"Inherit the Wind" will open May 24 at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, 24th Street and Barberton Drive. The play stars Robert Furniss, Mac McManus, Marcia Bartusiak and Fred Jenks III with Bob Burchette, Fran Peterson and Charles Burledge. The show is directed by Pat Bernick who is the drama teacher at Kempsville High School.

Other cast members include J. Justice, Wirt Walker, Randy McClellan, Henry Highton, Sally Furniss, Steven Culp, Carl Gotz, Roxy Webster, P.K. O'Meaghek, Lisa Cary, Flo Haynia, Randy Abbey, Craig McManus, Michael Thorpe and Laurie Watkins. Set design for the show has been done by Robert Coulsting.

The play will run Fridays and Saturdays through June 8. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m. for all performances. Tickets are $1.50 for students and the military and $3 for adults. Reservations may be made by calling the Little Theatre at 428-9523.

(May 21, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

The courtroom drama concerning the evolution of man, "Inherit the Wind," opens Friday at the Virginia Beach Little Theatre, 24th Street and Barberton Drive. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1.50 for students and the military. For information call the theatre at 428-9523.

(May 22, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

"Inherit the Wind" opens Friday at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, 24th Street and Barberton Drive, and will play Fridays and Saturdays through June 8. Ticket information and reservations may be obtained by calling the theatre at 428-9523.

(May 22, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

Trial Drama on Stage

A live monkey and a large human cast combine for the drama "Inherit the Wind" opening Friday at the Virginia Beach Little Theatre, 24th Street and Barberton Drive.

The play, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, is a dramatic reenactment of the 1925 courtroom clash between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan over different theories of the evolution of man. Although based on that famous Scopes monkey trial, the names of events and characters have been changed in the stage version.

The Beach production features Robert Furniss, who is a lawyer by profession, as the prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady. Two local television personalities, Mac McManus (as Henry Drummond) and Marcia Bartusiak (as Rachel Brown), will fill other lead roles.

Fred Jenks III will be the science teacher, Bertram Cates, who is on trial for teaching the theories of Darwin. Fran Peterson is cast as cynical reporter E. K. Hornbeck. The Rev. Jeremiah Brown, who is intent upon the punishment of the "infidel" teacher whom his own daughter loves, will be portrayed by Bob Burchette.

The play is under the direction of Pat Bernick, speech and drama teacher at Kempsville High School. Tony Smith is the assistant director.

The show will be on stage Fridays and Saturdays through June 8. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1.50 for students and the military. Reservations may be made by calling the theatre at 428-9523.

(May 29, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun)

"Inherit the Wind" continues Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach, 24th Street and Barberton Drive. Ticket information and reservations may be made by calling the theatre at 428-9523.

(May 29, 1974, Virginia Beach Sun, by Linda Miller)

'Inherit the Wind' – Exceptional cast on stage

Though the theories of Darwin are not as controversial as they used to be, the colorful drama concerning the evolution of man, "Inherit the Wind," is now on stage at the Virginia Beach Little Theatre.

The Beach production is rather a light-hearted version of the reenactment of the Scopes Monkey trial. In fact, some portions of the play which probably should be dramatic lose much of their impact because they come off as comical. The play, while entertaining, is not the drama one expects when making plans to attend the theatre.

Perhaps the thought of a heavy dramatic plot, however, is what kept the audience away opening night. The theatre group performed before a meager audience of some 45 persons Friday.

While the play production has its faults, individual members of the cast are exceptional in their assigned roles.

The role of Henry Drummond, the "big-city" defense attorney for the school teacher accused of explaining theories of Darwin, is skillfully portrayed by Mac McManus, at home in the role since he has played Henry Drummond in productions at Norfolk and Portsmouth little theatres, is a stand-out in the Beach play. As the forceful attorney Drummond, Mr. McManus steals the thunder of prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady (played by Robert Furniss).

Mr. Furniss is an able Matthew Brady. A lawyer in real life, Mr. Furniss is comfortable in the courtroom setting. He adds just the right touch to his characterization of the boastful and worshipped trial lawyer.

The Rev. Jeremiah Brown, played by Bob Burchette, might well be able to conjure up the devil. Mr. Burchette has done a good job with the character of the straight-laced town minister. He is outstanding in the prayer meeting scene.

The cynical reporter E. K. Hornbeck is played by Fran Peterson. Though Mr. Peterson's Hornbeck is adequate, many times he delivers his lines so rapidly and with so little inflection that it leaves the audience with little impression other than confusion.

Marcia Bartusiak has been well-cast in the role of Rachel Brown, the minister's daughter. But, Ms. Bartusiak's movements on stage were overly stilted, while her voice was under projected opening night.

Randy McClellan, as the bailiff, once again showed his stage ability in character roles. He has been seen in character roles in numerous Little Theatre productions.

As it happens in many plays with large casts, one actor turned up ill and unable to perform opening night. On the spur of the moment, assistant director Tony Smith stepped in to fill the role of the judge when Charles Burlage called in sick. The theatre group was fortunate to have such an adaptable actor as Mr. Smith able to step into the role. They were also fortunate that it was not one of the larger roles in the play.

Other actors such as Fred Jenks (Bertrum Cates) and J. Justice (the mayor) also turned in good performances.

The play offers the real flavor of a small town and the set, complete with a "Read Your Bible" banner, is clever.

Though the production will not go down as one of the most exciting dramatic presentations at the Little Theatre, it is certainly a show that should entertain resident and tourists alike.

Detailed Summary:

As Inherit the Wind opens, Bert Cates, having been arrested for teaching evolution to his sophomore science class, is in jail. Rachel Brown, his girlfriend and the daughter of Reverend Brown (the spiritual leader of Hillsboro) visits him. Rachel is confused and torn between the opposing beliefs held by Cates (academic freedom) and her father (fundamentalism) and her love for both of them. Desperately wanting to avoid the mounting controversy over his case, she pleads with Cates to admit he was wrong to teach evolution, and she is disappointed that Cates refuses.

Cates is nervous and frightened because he has learned that Matthew Harrison Brady, three-time presidential candidate, fundamentalist, and leader of the crusade against evolution, has volunteered to be the prosecuting attorney. He reveals to the bailiff, Mr. Meeker, that he has sent a letter to the Baltimore Herald asking for an attorney to defend him.

To celebrate Brady's arrival, the townspeople of Hillsboro carry posters, hang banners, provide a picnic lunch "fitt'n for a king," and parade through the town singing "Gimme that old-time religion." Brady basks in the adoration of his followers and vows to defend the people of Hillsboro against "Evolution." E.K. Hornbeck, cynical columnist for the Baltimore Herald, also arrives in Hillsboro. He openly mocks Brady and is contemptuous of the bigotry and ignorance he observes in Hillsboro. He informs Brady's followers that Henry Drummond, an attorney famous for successfully defending underdogs, has been sent by the Baltimore Herald to defend Cates. Drummond arrives in Hillsboro later that evening. Upon his arrival, the only attention he receives is from Melinda, a young girl who screams that he's the devil.

When the trial begins, the courtroom is full. Both Brady and Drummond are self-assured: Brady, because he has the support of the spectators and is confident that his fundamentalist views are right and will, therefore, prevail; Drummond, because he seeks the truth.

After the first day in court, which involves selecting the jury, Reverend Brown holds a prayer meeting, at which he delivers a fire-and-brimstone sermon. Becoming overzealous, he prays that Cates be destroyed. When his daughter, Rachel, tries to stop him, he condemns her as well. Uncomfortable with the tenor of the prayer and afraid that Reverend Brown's actions may hinder the support the townspeople have in him, Brady steps forward and curtails Reverend Brown's sermon by reciting the wisdom of Solomon.

The following day, the trial proceeds and witnesses are called. Cates' students testify, and Rachel, whom Brady tricked into revealing confidential conversations she'd had with Cates, also testifies. The judge excludes Drummond's scientific witnesses claiming that evolution itself is not on trial. Determined to challenge the Butler Law, Drummond shrewdly switches his tactics and calls Brady to testify as an expert on the Bible. Brady arrogantly and ignorantly agrees to take the stand. Drummond's cross-examination of Brady, in which he exposes that Brady doesn't interpret the Bible literally and destroys Brady's credibility by questioning his status as a self-anointed prophet, changes the course of the trial.

The jury finds Cates guilty, and he is fined $100. Brady protests the minimal punishment. Although he won the case, his victory is a hollow one. The real triumph belongs to Drummond and Cates, who win a moral victory for freedom of thought.

Trying to stem the tide of attention and support that has rapidly drifted away from him, Brady insists on giving his closing speech, despite the fact that court had been adjourned and carnival atmosphere has intruded. Only a few of the faithful followers seem prepared to listen; the others who remain listen only grudgingly. Brady begins his speech, but he is unable to hold the crowd's attention. The final insult occurs when the radio announcer interrupts Brady to return the listeners to their regularly scheduled broadcast. Brady collapses, is removed from the courtroom, and soon after dies.

Rachel enters the courtroom, carrying a suitcase. She apologizes to Cates for her lack of understanding and to Drummond for possibly offending him. She reveals that she has read Darwin's On Origin of Species, and, although she doesn't like the premise of evolutionary theory, she now understands how important having the freedom to think is. She chooses to support Cates and leave her father.

Hornbeck continues to mock Brady after learning of his death, and Drummond defends Brady, angrily pointing out that "Brady had the same right as Cates: the right to be wrong!" Then Drummond leaves the courtroom with a Bible and a copy of Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

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