"Wait Until Dark," a thriller by Frederick Knott, will open Friday at Jammers Bluenote Ballroom.
This KG Entertainment production offers an evening of suspense and surprise for local audiences.
Jeremiah Liend will return to the Bemidji stage after a two-year hiatus. He plays a leading role as Henry Roat Jr. and Sr. whom he describes as a "vicious and calculating con man."
"He is a pre-Hannibal Lecter character," Liend said. "It is really a unique role where you delve into the darker aspects of a person's character. It's fun to be able to be bad. The only opportunity you get to be bad is on stage."
Opposite Liend is Mallory McKay, who plays Susy Hendrix, a young Greenwich Village, N.Y., wife dealing with the after effects of an accident which left her blind. Her husband wants her to be more self-sufficient, as he is often away on photo shoots. The play begins with her husband, played by Mike Bredon, receiving a call for a photo shoot at another location. And herein begins the sinister plot: the con men try to convince Susy that her husband will be implicated in drug trafficking unless she surrenders the doll that he brought back to New York from Canada as a favor to someone. The doll contains heroin and Roat and his accomplices, played by Greg Gasman and Andor Lofthus, stalk Susy within the confines of her apartment. A young girl and neighbor, played by Chelsey Harris, holds the key to the mystery of where the doll is. But it is Susy in the end who figures out what is real, and she takes her revenge on the con men.
McKay said that her character is a big challenge for her.
"You don't know unless you are blind how it is, and I want to make her as authentic as possible," she said. "It's really a good learning experience. A lot of it has to do with the physicality of Susy as she is recently blind and retains many of the social characteristics that we all know, like looking at some one when they are speaking."
Her coach in this effort is Bridget Stomberg, who has three sight-impaired daughters: Kennedy, Maddie and Julia. They are all technical advisors for this show, as their mother quizzes them for specific reactions and mannerisms.
Greg Gasman, director and producer, is known for picking plays that challenge the audiences as well as the actors.
"I was looking for a thriller, so I re-visited the movie," he said. "I wanted to cast Mallory in another play before she leaves BSU this year because she such a strong actress."
He said he picked Liend because he knew that he could do a mean character well. Liend said the deal maker for him was that one dollar from every ticket sold would be donated to the Helen Keller Foundation.
Gasman said, "I also have a 14-year-old that I have been working with for years. Chelsey Harris is her name and she is just a little bundle of talent. So far, she has only been in young audience or family productions, but I knew that I had to cast her in this play."
Another player who is proving Gasman right in casting roles is Andor Lofthus, who has only had minor roles in former productions.
"Andor has a ton of lines for this show and he is doing great," said Gasman.
"Wait Until Dark" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. March 5-7 and March 11-13 and at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 13. All tickets are $10 and may be purchased now at Harmony Natural Foods Coop and the Wild Hare Bistro. Tickets will also be sold at the door. All shows will be at Jammer's Bluenote Ballroom, six miles north on Bemidji Avenue.