A rare opportunity to see a stage adaptation of James Dean’s landmark film, “Rebel Without A Cause,” has found its way to a theater in Jamestown.
Co-presented by Masked Productions and Hatikvah Ministries, “Rebel” is set to run for four nights on the Willow Bay Theater stage. Beginning with an opening night performance on Friday, Jan. 24, “Rebel” is set to continue on Saturday, Jan. 25, Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1. The doors to the show will open at 7:30 p.m., and it will begin at 8 p.m.
The project is made possible through a collaboration between community players, co-director Shannon Nixon, co-director Logan Beard, executive producer Philip Petscher, Jordan Spencer of Willow Bay Theater and many others.
According to Nixon, area residents can feel good about offering support to “Rebel” because not only is the cast comprised of members of the community, but also Masked Productions fundraises for nonprofit organizations and Hatikvah Ministries is an outreach program.
“It’s always nice to come out to support the people who are a part of the production because they are volunteering their time to create an aspect of art within the community,” Nixon said. “The arts provides a catharsis for people to get away from aspects of their lives that might be stressful. And, this is more than just a fun little show – it has a moral tale that can contribute to anybody’s life.”
The cast is set to feature: Vince Liuzzo as Jim Stark, who was originally played by James Dean; Nixon as Judy, originally played by Natalie Wood; and Lars Benson as Plato, originally played by Sal Mineo. It will also feature Beard, Petscher, Adam Hughes, Nathan Meelen, Carl Liuzzo, Adrianna Roehmholdt, Stephanie Walker, Steve Cobb, Marge Fiore, John Beard, Dr. Russell Lee and Kori Hughes.
In addition to her duties as co-director, Nixon will also play Judy in the production. Taking on the role has been a challenge for Nixon, but that’s part of what she’s enjoying about it, she said.
“Her character is complex, and there are so many aspects of her that are very unlike who I am, but there are also parts that are very much like me,” Nixon said. “I enjoy being able to portray things on stage that are foreign to me – things that I haven’t experienced before. I’m doing it a little differently than Natalie Wood and the movie did – she’s slightly more in your face and dangerous. She’s struggling with her home life, and is simply searching for somebody to love – something many people look for.”
Liuzzo, who will portray the iconic rebel himself: Jim Stark, is greatly looking forward to the opportunity to bring the character to life onstage, he said.
“I’ve always thought James Dean was cool, even when I was a kid – he’s kind of like my social muse,” Liuzzo said. “When they asked me to do this I was excited because I get to act cool – who doesn’t want to act cool? I can relate to the character in a lot of ways, so I hope to deliver a convincing and compelling performance. It’s a unique play, and I’m really excited to be a part of the first attempt at something like this in the area.”
Serving as co-director of the project, Beard plays a major role in molding the actors into characters inspired by the original “Rebel Without A Cause.” In doing so, he has come to understand what he feels is the powerful, moving message behind the film, and hopes that he can instill that message in those who attend the show.
“It’s really easy to fall into a habit of a lifestyle, doing the same thing and making the same choices day in and day out,” Beard said. “Jim knows that what he is doing is wrong, and he wants to change, but he won’t let himself because of pride, honor, or whatever it is – I think everybody has that problem. But when you get into this habit of doing the same thing day in and day out, you might know it’s not working for you but you don’t want to put forth the effort or you don’t know how to do something else. So, I think the best thing to take away from this is that no matter where you are in your life, and no matter what you’re doing, if it’s not working for you then you can make that change – and you should make that change.”
The proceeds of the show will benefit Hatikvah Ministries, as well as future projects at the Willow Bay Theater. Hatikvah Ministries is a Christian outreach program dedicated to delivering the message of Christ. Some of the ministries goals include assisting families, underprivileged children and those in need by providing uplifting theatrical and athletic activities.
“A vision has developed for us – to create quality productions,” Petscher said. “If I’m going to continue learning to be a producer, I want to become a benevolent producer. I don’t know yet what constitutes success or failure because I’m a blank page, but I’ll be finding that out soon. It’s an exciting time, because we have a venue that many natives of Jamestown were unaware of, and we have many projects in the works.”
Presale tickets to “Rebel” are $10, and can be purchased at www.rebelwithoutacause.co, at Wing City Grille in Lakewood, and the Labyrinth Press Co. in Jamestown. Tickets will be $14 at the door. Willow Bay Theater is located at 21 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 708-8879.