Asolo Rep's Spin on Twelve Angry Men

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Twelve Angry Men at Asolo Repertory has been a crowd pleaser for Sarasota theater fans. Photo by Dan Norman

Catch Asolo Repertory Theatre’s production of Twelve Angry Men: A New Musical this weekend before the hit show closes its curtains on the final performance of the season. The musical, which is directed by Asolo Rep’s Producing Artistic Director Peter Rothstein, originally made its world premiere in 2022 at Rothstein’s old haunt, Theater Latté Da in Minneapolis.

Asolo Repertory’s production of Twelve Angry Men brings the same intensity that is intrinsic to the classic courtroom drama–which centers around twelve jurors in 1954 deliberating the case of a teenage boy accused of murdering his father–but with a few contemporary twists. The first and most obvious deviation from the original story is that this production incorporates music as a device to drive the plot forward. “While the plot is entirely the same as the original teleplay, the conversations leading up to the characters’ decisions might be a little bit different. When developing this, we learned that musical movement needed to move towards someone changing their mind,” says Rothstein. “In a traditional musical, the song has to propel the story to a new arrival point–if the characters aren’t in love by the end of this song, then it’s not doing its job. With this story, each song really drives someone to change their mind about the case.”

Twelve Angry Men uses composer Michael Holland’s score, set to the style of 1950s American Jazz, to weave in and out of key story beats. Dialogue will seamlessly give way to song before snapping back to conversation throughout the story.

The other key alteration to the story is the inclusion of a multi-racial cast, particularly when casting Juror no. 8, the original dissenting opinion arguing for the defendant, a Latin-American teenager’s, innocence. By casting Juror no. 8 as a person of color–and including a more diverse cast of jurors as a whole–Rothstein could not only avoid the typical “white savior” trope that permeates throughout the original story, but also use the musical to open a larger dialogue about race, class and responsibility in the country today. “Part of what having a diverse cast does, is that it puts multi-culture at the table for really challenging conversations that most of us are not willing to have right now. You might be talking and have an opinion about BLM or about racial reckoning or land acknowledgments or retributions that we owe our Native American citizens, but we’re having those convos in silos because we feel safe there,” says Rothstein. “These men are not safe, so they’re actually having the conversations that I wish we all were having.”

May 8 to June 9, Box office: 941-351-8000 / 800-361-8388, 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Pictured: Twelve Angry Men at Asolo Repertory has been a crowd pleaser for Sarasota theater fans. Photo by Dan Norman

« View The Friday Jun 7, 2024 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Sarasota Ballet Wows London Audiences, Prepares 2024-25 Season

Sarasota Ballet Wows London Audiences, Prepares 2024-25 Season

Philip Lederer | Jul 12, 2024

 DANCE: On Stage 2024 featuring Don Quixote

DANCE: On Stage 2024 featuring Don Quixote

Jul 4, 2024

Pirouetting Through Time

Pirouetting Through Time

Dylan Campbell | Jul 1, 2024

The Return of the Summer Circus Spectacular

The Return of the Summer Circus Spectacular

Dylan Campbell | Jun 28, 2024