Arthur Kennedy, Farley Granger, Robert Foxworth, Martin Sheen, Liam Neeson... And this year, British actor Ben Whishaw. What do they have in common? They've all played John Proctor, the flawed but deeply principled man at the heart of Arthur Miller's The Crucible on Broadway.
Miller's play puts Proctor and his wife Elizabeth in the crosshairs of the Salem witch trials. During a time when they were having marital difficulties, John Proctor had a sexual relationship with a young woman, a 17-year-old named Abigail, who worked as a servant in their house. When his wife suspected the infidelity, she sent the girl away, and now John is wracked with guilt, even as spurned Abigail plots a dangerous course. With a group of impressionable teen girls under her thumb, Abigail concocts a potent story of witchcraft and devil worship that sweeps through their strict Puritan town like a virus, infecting more and more people and spiraling ever more out of control. Before long, both John and Elizabeth Proctor are accused of making deals with the devil, and they must individually decide whether to confess falsely and live, or hold onto their principles and die.
Proctor is a great role for an actor, which explains why actors like Martin Sheen and Liam Neeson were drawn to it, along with Daniel Day-Lewis in the 1996 movie version of the play. Still, in the original Broadway production, it was Beatrice Straight as Elizabeth who walked away with the Tony Award.
Community Players opens their production of this American classic tomorrow night with a preview performance before its official opening night on Friday. The Crucible will play till January 24, with all weeknight performances at 7:30 pm and two Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm.
For Community Players, Samuel James Willis has the coveted role of John Proctor, with Hannah Artman as his wife Elizabeth and Vicky Snyder as Abigail. Tom Smith and Brian Artman appear as Reverends Parrish and Hale, the two ministers who begin the inquiry, while George Freeman and Nathan Bottorff-Gaik play the judges who won't let go once they are in charge. Cassandra Conklin, Cassie Greene, Trisha Bagby and Angela Throckmartin play the passel of teenagers who fly into fits and fantasies; Fania Bourn takes on the role of Tituba, the slave from Barbados whose tales first fire the imaginations of the girls; Quinn Biever, Jennifer Maloy and Paul Vellella play accusing witnesses; Drew German plays a friendly presence in the courtroom and the prison; and Joseph Culpepper, Nancy Nickerson, Joe Strupek and Lizzy Selzer are among those most hurt by the accusations. Alexis Godbee and Mikayla Meyers complete the ensemble.
For more information about the Community Players production of The Crucible, click here. To purchase tickets, visit this page.