Circle Theatre continues production season with ‘A Few Good Men’

By Jenny Adkins | 6/12/18 8:46am

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A Marine swears in on stage during opening night of Circle Theatre's "A Few Good Men" May 31. Courtesy / Kyle Way


Bringing a Broadway classic turned movie to the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center, the Grand Rapids-based Circle Theatre kicked off their live production of “A Few Good Men” on May 31. The play, which is directed by Mike Hull and written by Aaron Sorkin, is a continuation of the theatre’s 66th main stage season.

“A Few Good Men” follows the complex trial of two marines for their involvement in the death of a fellow soldier in Guantanamo Bay. Also popular for its film adaptation, Hull said the play and movie coincide extremely well, but his theatrical interpretation was independent of the movie’s portrayal.

“It’s a challenge when you’re doing anything that is already out there (because) you have to both approach the audience’s expectations of what the show is, but then make it original and unique,” Hull said. “The key to that for us was looking at the text itself and saying, ‘what is the story that’s dying to be told in these words?’ and asking how do we do that in a way that’s honest to the script.”

After working with the cast and crew for eight weeks to prepare for opening night, Hull said the team created a story that strayed from focusing on providing the audience an experience similar to the movie. Regardless, actor Jesse Aukeman, who plays the story’s protagonist, Daniel A. Kaffee, said the play still evokes similar emotions from the audience.

“‘A Few Good Men’ is an entertaining and intelligent play,” Aukeman said. “Even if you are familiar with the film adaptation, I think you will still be on the edge of your seat as you follow the characters' journeys and the feel the suspense of the scenes in court.”

With Memorial Day weekend preceding a very successful opening night, Hull said the timing coincides extremely well with both the holiday and the current state of the nation. Exploring both how humans make decisions and the notion of speaking truth to power, Hull said the story hits on a variety of questions the country is facing today.

Chelsea Pummill (Joanne Galloway) said, “Given our current political climate, I think the unrelenting search for truth is as meaningful and relevant as ever. Aaron Sorkin does a phenomenal job of creating a balanced portrayal of two sides, both holding firmly in their beliefs, at odds.”

All Circle Theatre cast and crew for the show worked on a volunteer basis, sacrificing their personal time to create the show. Hull said this creates a special atmosphere that harbors creativity and hard work for all directions.

“Both working with the cast and the people from Circle Theatre, you get to work with a bunch of people who are incredibly passionate about what they do,” Hull said. “These actors are all volunteering their time, so when they come in with that willingness to work and to sacrifice their time, you get an environment that’s so interesting. You really just become a unit.”

Looking back on the first few performances, Hull says that seeing the overall success of the production makes him proud to direct the show. Yet, the moments that resonate with him most are single lines that change from night to night, the moments that bring the experience to life.

“My favorite moments are the moments when I see each of those actors get what their character is about,” Hull said. “It’s different from night to night which (line) really stands out to me, but in the show, each character has one line that gives all of their character motivation. That’s my favorite part.”

Showings of “A Few Good Men” continue through June 16. Visit circletheatre.org for more information.

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