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Paul Bunyan Playhouse to stage 'Wait Until Dark'

The second play of the 2006 Paul Bunyan Playhouse is a thriller.

"We hope to have the audience scream at the end of the show, at the edge of their seats," said Megan Traina, stage manager.

Set in the 1960s, "Wait Until Dark" is a suspense mystery by Frederick Knott.

The psychological intrigue features Susy Hendrix, played by Christiana Clark, who is tormented by a trio of bad guys. Hendrix, recently blind from an accident, is trying to cope with her changed life. The narcotics gang members -- Harry Roat, played by Craig Johnson, Mike Talman, played by Hoe Papke, and Sgt. Carlino, played by Randall Funk -- are trying to trick her into handing over a doll Susy has unwittingly obtained.

The bad guys invent a story of a police investigation of her husband from which only the discovery of the now missing doll can save him. Her blindness is the key to them searching the apartment for the doll.

"They are looking for a doll that has heroin in it," Traina said. "It's a drug doll from Canada."

There's almost no explicit violence in this movie, yet there's an underlying current of foreboding and suspense that literally permeates the entire action.

The other characters are Hendrix's husband, Sam, played by Nicholas Johnson, and two police officers, played by Matt DeBlieck and Aaron Jay. These are all professional actors from the Twin Cities.

The play was made into a 1967 movie with Audrey Hepburn playing the part of Susy.

The other main character is Gloria, played by Jaimee Lusby, 10, of Bemidji. She is the Hendrix's upstairs neighbor, who helps Susy Hendrix with a suspenseful sting on the drug dealers.

The twist at the end puts the audience for a short time in Susy's sightless world.

The play opens at 8 p.m. today and runs until July 8 at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in the Chief Theatre in downtown Bemidji. The box office is open at noon and reservations are available by calling 751-7270.