Most families have a black sheep member or two, and some families even have relatives that some family members claim is the spawn of the devil.
What if that evil family member turns out to be your perfect little 11-year-old daughter?
In Maxwell Anderson’s play, “The Bad Seed,” 11-year-old Rhoda is that family member.
Rhoda, who always accustomed to getting her way, is denied an award she desperately coveted. And when the penmanship medal winds up in her room, and the boy who won it is found dead floating in a lake, one might suspect all is not well.
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But once you discover that the child you adopted had as a biological mother a psychopathic serial killer, you realize the game is on.
Bay St. Louis Little Theater’s production of “The Bad Seed,” adapted by Anderson from the novel by William March, is beautifully directed by Biloxi resident William Keith Gregory II, who has assembled a fine cast from across the Coast.
With Gulfport native Sidney Grove as Rhoda, the Bay theater continues its tradition of attracting the most-talented young performers on the Coast.
Grove offers that obligatory devilishly odd smile, and delivers her lines as if she’s been treading the boards for years.
Gulfport’s Jennifer Weiss plays Rhoda’s mother, Christine Penmark, who carries most of the lines in the show and does so with a penchant for rendering every emotion in an authentic manner.
Gulfport-natives Karen Burkett and Keith Pederson, and Long Beach actor Jim Russell, add a lot to this stellar cast, each of them determined to find their own means of averting the tragedy they sense is coming.
Not to be outdone, several Bay regulars are on hand to add more realism of the type required in this brand of drama.
Jeff Campbell as Col. Penmark, Christina Richards as Miss Fern and Irv Hansen as Reginald Tasker give memorable performances, going down with the ship in such a way as to offer us a terrifying picture of how we might react in such a nightmarish situation.
Part of the credit for the all-around outstanding performances of this geographically disparate cast must go to director Gregory, who not only helped wrangle sparkling performances from a large community theater cast, never an easy assignment, but also gave his charges the kind of stage directions that enhance the realism of the piece.
Light and sound director Phillip Dutton, costume designer Molly Grant, and set designer Michael Brown provide just the eerie touch this play needs.
If you saw the movie version of this story or read the book, don’t think you know everything that’s going to happen on the Bay stage. This cast and crew have cooked up some surprises that will have the audience jumping out of their seats.
The Bad Seed
Written by: Maxwell Anderson, adapted from the book by William March
Presented by: Bay St. Louis Little Theatre
Where: 398 Blaize Ave., in the Depot District
Director: Keith Gregory
Assistant director/stage manager: Lori Grove
Producers: Clayton Pennylegion and Christina Richardson
Technical director: Michael Brown
Tech crew: Bailey McDyer
Lights/sound: Philip Dutton
Costume designer: Molly Grant
Set design/construction: Michael Brown, Dean Noel, Keith Gregory
Music/sound effects and graphic art: Clayton Pennylegion
Cast: Sidney Grove, Jeff Campbell, Jennifer Weiss, Karen Burkett, Keith Pederson, Christina Richardson, Irv Hansen, Brennah Britt, Scott M. Darrah, Michael Brown, Jim Russell, Brianna Dixon, Brandon “Tip” Wilson.
Show dates/times: 8 p.m. June 2, 3, 9 and 10; 2 p.m. June 4 and 11
Tickets: $15 adults; $10 seniors 65+, veterans, military, students with ID; $8 children 12 and under.
Details/reservations: 228-467-9024 or www.bsllt.org