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12 Angry Men

It’s a work that seems perfect for the stage, and yet most only know it as a movie. “12 Angry Men,” which takes place inside a jury room, has been adapted for the stage before, but rarely as well as on Broadway in 2004 when it earned three Tony Award nominations.

For those who haven’t seen the 1957 movie starring Henry Fonda or the 1997 remake, the story follows twelve jurors as they decide the fate of a teenager on trial for murdering his father. The decision initially seems obvious, but one dissenting opinion from Juror 8 questions whether there’s enough reasonable doubt to render a “not guilty” verdict.

“Every man in the play has his moment of rage,” said Richard Thomas, who plays the virtuous Juror 8 in the touring production. “Some are always angry, and others have their safety zone that they’re called out of. There are many notes and many colors in the writing.”

We tried to get Thomas angry with some silly questions, but much like Juror 8 he was far too level-headed to be rattled.

Have you ever been on a real jury?

No, never. I’ve had so many prosecutors come up to me and tell me I’m their worst nightmare. They don’t want me anywhere near the courtroom.

What’s the craziest thing you would do to get out of jury duty?

I actually think it would be interesting to serve. I live in New York, and they’re tough about it there. I got a notice in the fall, and I have to go in June when we finish the show.

Do you think the kid is guilty?

I have no idea. It’s probably a 50/50 shot. The show isn’t about proving innocence. Someone can’t be declared innocent. You can only declare someone guilty. But if there’s enough doubt they can’t be declared guilty either.

It’s all guys in the cast. Are there women on the crew, or is this a traveling dude-fest?

There a total of 13 guys in the cast, including the guard. But there are three women in the crew along with about 20 total guys, with the occasional wife or girlfriend visit mixed in.

What’s the angriest you’ve ever been while surrounded by a group of guys?

I went to an all-boys school, so I guess it had to be then. But I don’t recall a particularly angry event. I’m more the passive-aggressive type.

You were in Miami with essentially the same production last year. Anything new or different this time around?

There were some cast changes. George Wendt [who was Juror 1, the foreman] is now playing Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray” in New York, and there are three new guys in the play.

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