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'Frost/Nixon' at Camelot Theatre

It's 1977, and former President Richard Nixon and British talk show host David Frost sit down to talk. Each man has an agenda: Nixon wants to repair his shattered image; Frost wants to revive his career. Neither expects what happens.

"On both sides there was a selfish way of redeeming themselves," says Paul R. Jones, who plays Nixon in Camelot Theatre's production of Peter Morgan's drama, "Frost/Nixon."

In 2006, Morgan turned a series of interviews between the president and the celebrity into a Tony-nominated production starring Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost. Two years later, the script was made into a movie directed by Ron Howard.

"Frost/Nixon" will open Friday, April 30, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. The show will preview Wednesday and Thursday, April 28 and 29, and will run through May 30. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. The April 28 performance will be a fundraiser for the Talent Historical Society.

The play, directed by Doug Warner, centers solely around its two characters, Nixon, played by Jones, and Frost, played by John Litton. Opening scenes bring to light controversies about the war in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal and Nixon's resignation in 1974, setting the stage for the interviews.

Frost invests four years of his life in preparation for the project, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"In the play, David puts his whole financial world, if not career, on the line to acquire these interviews, not even knowing if he's going to sell it," says Litton.

"Frost didn't go into the interviews looking for the apology, but because he knew...that if he happened to get the apology then that would launch him into the fame and success in America that he had once had."

Throughout the interviews Frost remains composed and laid back, not like the hard-hitting reporters of the day, but more like Barbara Walters, Litton says.

Nixon, on the other hand, desperately wanted redemption and probably forgiveness, Jones says. He was energized and on top until they dug up some information about the Watergate break-in from some of the White House taped conversations.

Nixon "never acknowledged that he did anything illegal, but he apologized for his mistakes," Jones says.

Warner, who is the former producing director at Mendocino Theatre Company in California, joined Camelot's staff five years ago. "Frost/Nixon" will be his sixth directing project at Camelot.

Tickets cost $18, $16 for seniors and students, $10 for the April 29 preview and $18 for the Talent Historical Society fundraiser. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2.

To purchase tickets, visit www.camelottheatre.org, call 541-535-5250 or stop by the box office between 1 and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday or one hour before performances.

Paul R. Jones, left, who plays former President Richard Nixon, and John Litton, playing David Frost, in Camelot Theatre's production of “Frost/Nixon.” - Photo by Steve Sutfin