Execution of Justice
by Hamilton Academy of Music
A background of partitions with the city of San Francisco projected on the background. Pre-show music from the late 70s. And then the play begins with the video of Diane Feinstein’s announcement: “As President of the Board of Supervisors, it's my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed. The suspect is Supervisor Dan White.”

Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice, initially staged shortly after Dan White’s release from prison and shortly before his suicide. The play follows the events after the assassinations through a series of brief scenes and monologues, offering glimpses of Dan White, his wife Mary Ann, friends of Moscone, Milk, and White, policemen and transvestites, the media and those involved in the trial that followed. A trial that would end with little more than a slap on the wrist. Those wearing “Free Dan White” shirts rejoiced at what would become known as the “Twinkie Defense” verdict, the defense experts claiming White had “diminished capacity” and no premeditation, his dramatic mood swing possibly affected by the consumption of too much sugar. There was no rejoicing from the gay community, as the trial became a referendum on whether the openly gay Harvey Milk could be shot and killed with no repercussions. The answer was yes, he could.

The format of the script is mostly journalistic in style, but that doesn’t prevent some powerful, emotional moments. White’s (Sean Eads) chilling confession and description of the day’s events. His wife’s (Ivy Beech) genuine regret, still so haunted by the moment her husband told her of his actions that she can scarcely face it. District Attorney Joseph Freitas (Aaron Albert from Disney’s I’m in the Band) delivering a riveting closing argument for the state. But it’s not enough to overcome the work of White’s lawyer, with Douglas Schmidt (Kyle Hamon) smoothly appealing to the darker side of the conservative jury as he paints White as an upstanding citizen who was understandably stressed and on automatic pilot as he took his service revolver and extra ammunition, crawled through a window avoiding metal detectors, and cornered each of his victims in their office before shooting them repeatedly, including execution shots to the head.

The cast includes several other strong performances including Joseph Lorea as Sister Boom Boom, Anthony Lucca as Frank Falzon who takes White’s official confession, and an ensemble that often takes on two or three roles. That ensemble delivers the emotional highlight of the show through the candlelight vigil, with the cast coming down the aisles and along the front of the stage with their lighted candles as a moving monologue is delivered by Milk’s friend (Tim Dougherty), including the quote from a letter Milk wrote in case he was assassinated – his hope that “if a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country.”

The production includes nice use of slides and video projections, as well as good staging and timing. Director Marlene Zuccaro, her designers, and her cast at Hamilton Academy staged a strong production of this challenging show, exploring bigotry and the legal system, convincingly portraying those who embrace such bigotry and the people who stand up to it.

Performs November 5 - 14, 2009.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Dan White: Sean Eads
Mary Ann White: Ivy Beech
Court Clerk: Carmen Berg
Court Judge: Lauren Moreno
Douglas Schmidt: Kyle Hamon
Theresa F. Norman: Lindsay Rapkin
Jim Denman: Zeno Robinson
Young Mother/Ruth Silver/Juror #3: Katie Brahams
Milk's Friend/Juror #2: Tim Dougherty
Joseph Freitas: Aaron Albert
Frank Falzon: Anthony Lucca
Joanna Lu/Cyr Copertini: Taylor Davis
Barbara Taylor: Lauren Price
Sister Boom Boom: Joseph Lorea
Police Officer Sullivan/Cop: Bryce Roos
Stephens/Dr. Jones: Cooper Sweeney
Rudy Nothenberg/Dr. Levy: Kambria Ruffin
Denise Apcar/Dr. Lunde: Jessie Leider
Officer Byrne/Dr. Binder: Caitlin Lowe
Edward Erdelatz/Fire Chief Sherratt: Chris Delgado
Gwenn Craig: Kourtni Gouche
William Melia/Harry Britt: Danny Friedman
Moscone Friend/Juror #1: John McCullough
Foreman: Joe Faragher
Carol Henry Carlson/Police Officer Sullivan: Zav Hershfield

Director: Marlene Zuccaro
Set Designer: J.P. Luckenbach
Lighting Designers: Zav Hershfield & Chibu Okezie
Costume Designers: Ellen Khansefid, Milena Trifunovich, Jag Terry
Sound Designer: Diva Ward


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