Kamiak courtroom drama has alternate endings | Theater Review

By Sara Bruestle | Jan 13, 2016
Courtesy of: Sam Freeman/NWPhoto Matthew Haley (District Attorney Flint) and Jazmine Low (Defense Attorney Stevens) star in Kamiak High School’s play “Night of January 16th,” which opens Thursday, Jan. 14.

The audience gets to pick one of two alternate endings for Kamiak High School’s winter play.

Kamiak Drama presents “Night of January 16th” by Ayn Rand, which opens Thursday, Jan. 14, in its Mukilteo theater.

The courtroom drama was inspired by the death of the "Match King,” Ivar Kreuger, a Swedish businessman who built a global match monopoly. After his financial empire collapsed with the Great Depression, Kreuger was found dead in his Paris flat.

While investigators had ruled his death a suicide, decades later, some theorized that Krueger hadn’t killed himself but had been murdered.

The story unfolds much like Kreuger’s, except that it’s set in a New York City courtroom in 1962.

We’re watching the murder trial of Karen Andre. The former secretary and lover of businessman Bjorn Faulkner is accused of murdering him.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Twelve lucky members of the audience get to play the role of the jurors and decide whether Andre is guilty.

The play doesn’t show the events leading up to Faulkner's death. Instead the jury must rely on character testimony alone. The play's ending depends on the verdict.

While I won’t go into each character’s testimony – that would spoil the fun – I will say that there were several gasp-inducing moments in court. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Or, if not a knife, a great accent: Most of the characters sport a Brooklyn accent, two of the witnesses are Swedish, and one of them is Southern.

“Night of January 16th,” directed by Laurie Lavine, dramatizes the conflict between individuality and conformity. The jury’s verdict reveals the jury’s preferences of these two societal ideals.

The defendant, Karen Andre, is played by seniors Rebekah Hoopengarner and Inés Gandal. When I saw the play, Hoopengarner was in the role. She does a wonderful job.

Andre’s lawyer, Ms. Stevens, is played by seniors Jazmine Low and Teresa Bocalan. When I watched, Low was Stevens. She is so savvy in court that you’d think she has been studying law in addition to the role.

Evan Butler and Matthew Haley play the district lawyer, Mr. Flint. I saw Haley in this role. His character’s cross-examining methods cause much of the tension we feel. It makes for good entertainment.

Bjorn Faulkner’s widow, Nancy Lee Faulkner, is played by Sierra Hawkins, a senior, and Amanda Henkel, a junior. I watched Henkel as Mrs. Faulkner. She is fantastic in the role.

Derrick Chim, a senior who plays mobster Larry Regan, Tawnie Reidhead, a senior who plays housekeeper Magda Svenson, and Iris Vold, a junior who plays exotic dancer Roberta Van Rensslear, get shout-outs here. They steal the show when they’re on the stand. (Senior Kristine White shares the role of Svenson.)

The cast is rounded out by many witnesses, who will likely sway the jury back and forth with their testimony, and courtroom staffers, who watch the trial along with the audience.

So, where will you be on the night of Jan. 16? If you’ll be at Kamiak, watching “Night of January 16th,” well, that’s the perfect alibi.

“Night of January 16th” is playing at Kamiak’s Performing Arts Center, 10801 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo. Performances are at 7 p.m. Jan. 14-16 and Jan. 22-23.

Tickets are $5-$10 for Friday and Saturday shows; Thursday’s preview performance is free. Tickets sold at the door. Festival seating, so arrive early.

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