Bay St. Louis Little Theater’s ‘The Bad Seed’ is a stellar production

Jennifer Weiss, Sidney Grove, Jeff Campbell, play the family dealing with unexpected evil in ‘The Bad Seed’ at Bay at louis little theater.
Jennifer Weiss, Sidney Grove, Jeff Campbell, play the family dealing with unexpected evil in ‘The Bad Seed’ at Bay at louis little theater. Special to the Sun Herald

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.

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