By Tricia Stiller
The 1967 film version of Frederick Knott's suspense-thriller "Wait Until Dark" is ranked 55th on the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Thrills" list and — spoiler alert — its climax is ranked 10th on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments."
I can say with all honesty, when I attended the "pay what you can" preview performance of this production Thursday night at the Parkland Theatre, even armed with all of this information, I still jumped in my seat. And, when I got turned around in the parking lot due to construction at Parkland, I'll admit to being a little nervous until I found my car.
The drama unfolds in the Greenwich Village apartment of Sam and Susy Hendrix. Sam, a photographer who travels a lot, unknowingly becomes embroiled in a sinister drug smuggling plot on his way home from Vancouver, when a woman innocently asks him to transport a doll home with him that she will collect later. The doll is filled with millions of dollars worth of heroin — the pure, uncut variety — and is a hot commodity to those who dwell on the dark side.
Susy Hendrix, though blinded by an accident, is an independent woman who uses her remaining senses and the help of her young neighbor Gloria to get the jump on the scheming con men who, in pursuit of the doll, have found their way to her door while Sam is away.
Under the direction of J.W. Morrissette, and performed on a wonderfully executed playing space designed by Julie Rundell, this production is top-notch, thanks to the bravura performance of Cara Maurizi as Susy.
It opened slowly, with so much exposition bordering on the tedious, but once Maurizi hit the stage, we were hooked!
David Kierski gives a fine performance as the con man with a conscience, who "befriends" Susy and nearly gains her trust.
David Dillman is convincing as his cohort and fellow parolee posing as a police officer, and Zackary Ross is delightfully creepy in his role as the murderous mastermind. Karen Hughes as Gloria is spot-on as the troubled brat next door who ultimately saves the day.
Other supporting members of the cast include Monty Joyce, Justin Blackwell and Alexx Valdez.
If you go
What: Parkland Theatre presents the thriller "Wait Until Dark" by Frederick Knott, directed by J.W. Morrissette, starring Cara Maurizi as Susy Hendrix (other cast members: Justin Blackwell, David Dillman, Karen Hughes, Monty Joyce, David Kierski, Zackary Ross and Alexx Valdez)
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 3 p.m. Feb. 23
Where: Parkland Theatre, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C
Tickets: $14 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens 55 and older, $10 each for groups of 15 or more ("half-price night" is Thursday)
Reservations: parkland.edu/theatre; 351-2528
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes, including 10-minute intermission
Of note: The theater and Parkland College's Hospitality Department will present a dinner and show Friday, Feb. 21, for $30; reservations can be made at parkland.edu/theatre.
Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at email@example.com.