by Camryn Orosco
Immanuel High School drama students are bringing the courtroom to the stage this spring, under the direction of Mr. Rick Robbins. They will be performing The Night of January Sixteenth, a legal drama written by Ayn Rand that takes place in 1930s New York City. It follows the three-day trial for the murder of Bjorn Faulkner, a wealthy businessman who may or may not have been honest and upstanding when he was alive.
In the defendant’s seat is Karen Andre, Faulkner’s former secretary and mistress. Does she have the motive and the means to commit murder? That is for a jury chosen from the audience to decide every night. To be considered for the jury, playgoers will be asked to write their name on a jury summons when they arrive in the Immanuel chapel lobby.
Before making their decision, the jurors will hear conflicting testimonies from a plethora of characters. Witnesses range from a spirited Swedish housekeeper to a notorious gangster and swindler. The defense will attempt to convince the jury that Faulkner committed suicide while the prosecution will claim that Miss Andre being fired drove her to commit murder.
Amanda Abreu, a junior and second year drama student, plays Elizabeth Kirkland, a medical examiner who was at the scene of the crime. She has had to challenge herself to go beyond the script in order to give the most realistic portrayal of her character. Elizabeth is someone who Abreu describes as, “someone who knows her facts and will not settle for anything less than the truth.” She also says that, “The Night of January Sixteenth is not like a regular play because the audience gets to participate, and there are a few unexpected twists.”
Nancy Lee Whitfield, wife of the late Bjorn Faulkner, is portrayed by senior Mia DeLaCerda. She says, “My favorite part of playing Nancy is by far how innocent and guilty she is at the same time.” Even with three years of experience under her belt, DeLaCerda claims that no show has been quite like this one. “The complexity of her character is unlike any role I’ve ever played before, and it’s definitely a great role for me.” When asked about the most challenging part of her role, she replies, “Trying to convince the jury of her innocence even when her character and motives come into question. As the show progresses, more truths are revealed about her.”
With a healthy balance of comedy and suspense, The Night of January Sixteenth is sure to be enjoyed by diverse audiences. The cast looks forward to sharing a unique and entertaining rendition of this play. Although the witnesses will put tremendous effort into influencing the verdict, the fate of Karen Andre ultimately lies in the audience’s hands.
Thursday, 5/11 at 7 p.m.
Friday, 5/12 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, 5/13 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, 5/14 at 3 p.m.
Immanuel High School
1128 S. Reed Avenue
Reedley, CA 93654