‘Night Of January 16th’ Opens May 10 At St. Johnsbury School Auditorium

Bjourn Falkner's widow Nancy Lee Falkner is questioned. Pictured from left are are Pam Tidyman, Libby Hillhouse, Brian Watson and Lora Schofield. (Courtesy photo)

The St. Johnsbury Players are preparing for their spring production, “Night of January 16th,” which will debut Friday, May 10 and run for five performances at the St. Johnsbury School Auditorium.

Set in the 1930s, “Night of January 16th” is a courtroom drama centred around the trial of Karen Andre (Lora Schofield), a dynamic “femme fatale” accused of murdering her lover, Bjorn Faulkner— a wealthy financier of dubious repute. Representing the State is District Attorney Flint (Kate Campbell), a prosecutor who has bet her career on Andre’s guilt. The defense attorney— Stevens (Terry Klein)— is a hard-hitting, hard-living legal assassin who loves impossible cases. Judge Heath (Brian Watson), the world-weary arbiter, struggles to keep order during the sensational trial.

Orbiting the trial are Faulkner’s wife, Nancy Lee (Pam Tidyman), and her father John Whitfield (Jan Clausing). The Whitfields are old-money American royalty, and they possess a shrewdness and cunning that they prefer to mask behind patrician poise and sophistication— for reasons beyond just social convention.

Rounding out the cast are Karl Jungquist (Elizabeth Bergman), Faulkner’s (seemingly) loyal accountant; John Hutchins (Zachary Wright), the night watchman who discovered Faulkner’s mangled corpse; Magda Svenson (Ursula Malabre-Speicher), Faulkner’s pious childhood governess-cum-housekeeper; and Larry “Guts” Regan (Mike Plough), a mobster whose hopeless infatuation with Karen Andre might have motivated him to do the unthinkable.

Twelve members of the audience are selected each night to act as the jury and render a verdict on Karen Andre at the close of the play, and there is no bias either way in the writing, so the audience’s decision is based entirely on the attitudes and mannerisms of the actors, which adds another layer of tension to the action.

The St. Johnsbury Player’s production of “Night of January 16th” will be performed May 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and May 19 at 2 p.m. at the St. Johnsbury School Auditorium (257 Western Ave.). Tickets are available at the door or may be purchased online at catamountix.com. For more information, call 802-274-4496 or e-mail miley.michael@gmail.com, or visit the St. Johnsbury Players on Facebook or at stjohnsburyplayers.org.

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