Madison Theatre Guild Brings Thriller 'Wait Until Dark' To Life
Photo Credit: Madison Theatre Guild
Steve Noll first became exposed to Wait Until Dark in the 1980’s, thanks to HBO playing a filmed version of the play on repeat. This was the first play the professional director and producer ever saw, and ultimately sparked his interest in suspense plays.
After having the play on his directing to-do list for several years, Noll will finally get to bring the production to life when Wait Until Dark, presented by Madison Theatre Guild, opens on Nov. 3. The story follows a blind woman named Susan Hendrix who is imperiled by a trio of men in her own apartment. As the climax builds, Susan discovers that her blindness actually may be the key to her escape.
“I like to joke that we should charge half price for tickets since people will only need the edge of their seats,” Noll said while chuckling. “I want people to come in and enjoy a night at the theater and be entertained, and by entertained I mean I hope that they walk out shaking.”
Noll will be staging Jeffrey Hatcher’s adapted version of Frederick Knott’s 1966 original piece. Noll was ecstatic to find this new version since it addressed some of the initial concerns he had with the play. He described the new script as more streamlined and liked how Hatcher got rid of the dialogue that could be viewed as sexist to a modern audience.
Hatcher’s revision is also set in the World War II era, as opposed to the 1960’s like in Knott’s original.
Erin Baal, an accomplished set designer in the Madison area, will play Susan. Noll offered her the role after learning that she struggled to find acting jobs.
“A couple years ago we were having a conversation and I said, ‘wow Erin, you are in such demands for your sets,’” Noll said. “She responded, ‘yea everyone only thinks of me as a set designer, nobody ever thinks of me for acting, but I really do love to act.”
This stuck with Noll. About a year ago when it looked like the production was finally going to happen, Noll gave her a copy of the script and said if she liked it, the role was her’s.
“She’s got this very expressive face, with these big dear dough eyes,” Noll said. “I love the idea of having someone with such expressive eyes play a blind woman.”
Other performers include Jason Compton as Harry Roat, Edric Johnson as Mike Talman, J. Francis Molloy as Carlino, Alyssa Stowe as Gloria, and Benjamin Barlow as Sam Hendricks.
Noll worked with Compton in 2014 during Madison Theatre Guild's production of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. Much like with Baal, Noll introduced Compton to the Wait Until Dark script after seeing how much he enjoyed playing the villain in Gross Indecency.
“A lot of theatre is designed to be thought provoking and challenging, I love that kind of theatre and I’ve done that kind of theatre, but this (Wait Until Dark) is more theatre as entertainment,” Noll said. “To me this is a two hour rollercoaster ride.”
Wait Until Dark runs Nov. 3 – 18 at The Bartell Theatre on 113 E. Mifflin St. Madison, WI 53703. For tickets visit bartelltheatre.org or call the box office at 608-661-9696.