Lighthouse Event Center to present ‘Doubt’

Published 9:43 am Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Lighthouse Event Center will present the area premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s award-winning drama, “Doubt,” this weekend.

The winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Doubt” tells the story of a Bronx Catholic school in turmoil during the fall of 1964.

Sister Aloysius (Lisa Sturtz) is an old-school nun who insists that the young and popular Father Flynn (Al Blumenshein) is having an inappropriate relationship with Donald Muller, the school’s first black student. Armed with nothing more than a belief in her superstition and a few circumstantial details, she begins a relentless campaign to remove the priest, enlisting the help of a subordinate nun (Annmarie Caporale) and the child’s tormented mother (Andie Lewis).

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The priest denies the allegations, but who is telling the truth? Even the cast can’t agree on whether he’s guilty or innocent, said director Gordy Handeland.

When: “Doubt” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Lighthouse Event Center is located at 638 Marshall St. in Albert Lea.

How much: Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Tone Music in Albert Lea.

Handeland said the Lighthouse is one of the first theaters around to present this play. “Nobody’s done it for community theater around here,” he said. “There’s a community theater around the Twin Cities holding auditions now and Rochester is doing it next spring.”

The play was recently a movie, featuring Meryl Streep.

Handeland said Blumenshein and Sturtz initially showed some interest in the play. “It’s a drama, and most of the shows we do here (at the Lighthouse) are comedies or small musicals,” the director said.

But because the play has only four characters, it’s a good production for the small church converted into a theater and concert venue. In fact, it’s that intimacy that keeps Sturtz coming back to do shows there, time after time.

“It’s been fun,” she said.

The play lends itself well to what the stage area has to offer.

“We can’t look at shows that are too tough, set-wise,” Handeland said. He and Lighthouse co-owner Merle Krause have been working on the set, which includes an office, garden and area where Father Flynn gives his sermons.

Tony Segura is the stage manager for the show.

This is Lewis’ first play in Albert Lea. She’s previously worked with Handeland as a stage manager in a number of shows in Austin, and was part of Summerset Theatre’s “South Pacific” cast last summer.

As Mrs. Muller, she’s not willing to believe her son has been molested.

“She’s not willing to go there,” Lewis said of her character. “Worse things have happened. She just wants him to finish at this school so he can go on to a better high school.”

Sturtz said she enjoys playing a character with such firm convictions. “She comes off harsh, but she has the best interest of the child at heart,” she said.

Caporale, who is planning to study theater at Augsburg College in Minneapolis this fall, said she was interested in the show because it was at the Lighthouse and she has traditionally been a part of plays with larger casts.

She describes her character, Sister James, as an innocent with sunshine in her heart. “She allows herself to be molded by other people,” she said. “But she always tries to think the best of people.”

Blumenshein said he has his own ideas about his character’s guilt or innocence. The challenge, he said, is to keep that in check so he doesn’t influence the audience.

Handeland said the play runs about 90 minutes. There will be no intermission. The subject matter is for those ages 13 years and older.