The River City Players have A Few Good Men and Women

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

While many people have been preparing for the fall semester or inventing creative ways to avoid the heat, the River City Players have been preparing for military life. The local volunteer theater group hasn't enlisted; they've been rehearsing their next production, the military courtroom drama A Few Good Men.

Aaron Sorkin, writer for The West Wing, wrote the play, as well as the screen play for the Oscar-nominated 1992 film, which started Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson. A Few Good Men tells the story of two Marines on trail for murder. Their lawyer, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Bart Elfrink, attempts to prove that the soldiers were merely following orders from Col. Nathan R. Jessep, played by Seth Keith, and that the murder was an accident. Actor Seth Keith claims, A Few Good Men can really show the audience the performer's passion, and force them to think about honor, respect, and all the possibilities of the important decisions made by the characters.

The movie, which follows the play very closely, is mostly remembered for the scene where Kaffee questions Jessep, especially the "You can't handle the truth" line. The performers acknowledge that it's a challenge to distance their work from the movie. Keith explains he's trying "not to be Jack Nicholson" and that the actors must rely upon their voices and essence to provide that distance. Meredith Elfrink, Bart's wife and the actress who portrays Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway, believes that it's probably been awhile since most people have seen the movie, and that those who are expecting to see something very similar will probably be satisfied since much of the dialogue is the same.

The River City Players, who have existed in Cape for about thirty years, have taken steps beyond regular rehearsals to ensure a performance that "may not be Broadway, but [will] be as close as possible," as director Lloyd Williams says. Meredith Elfrink explains that a few local soldiers stopped by to teach the cast how to salute and critiqued their performances. Many of the performers note that this play is very different, simply because the body language and speech patterns of the military are more formal.

Kathleen LaPiana, who plays Judge Randolph, is, like Keith, a first-timer in the RCP. She notes that much has changed in the two decades since A Few Good Men was written. "I think they should change the name," she asserts, noting that the play can now realistically feature more female actresses, instead of the one originally called for in the cast description.

The Arkansas-native LaPiana, whose teaching experience earned her the judge role, is just one example of what veteran member and SEMO professor Dr. Roseanna Whitlow means when she states that she is "impressed by the wealth of talent in the community." LaPiana, who once enjoyed the performances as an audience member, says she's glad to participate in what Williams calls "one of Cape's hidden treasures." Meredith feels that a lot of people don't know about the group, but hopes that doing well-known plays, such as A Few Good Men and Harvey, will help improve that.

The play will be performed in the River City Yacht Club at Port Cape. Dinner shows will be August 19, 20, 26, and 27 at a cost of $24.95 per person. The two non-dinner shows on the 24th and 25th will cost only $10. The cast hopes everyone will enjoy the show and come back for future performances, including Wait Until Dark this fall. For more information on the performance or the River City Players, call 573-334-0954 or e-mail Lloyd Williams at

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