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Camelot presents 'A Few Good Men'

Aaron Sorkin's "A Few Good Men" asks a compelling question. How far should we go to protect our national freedom? "The play takes a look at what we ask young warriors to become in order to defend our nation," says Livia Genise, Camelot Theatre's artistic director. She says she watched a lot of U.S. Marine Corps recruiting videos while gearing up to direct Sorkin's dramatization of real events that took place in 1986 at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

"Dedication to something bigger than themselves is one of the things that is asked of recruits," Genise says. "It goes back to the same question Sorkin asks throughout the play. Who are you supposed to be fighting for?"

"A Few Good Men" previews Thursday, Feb. 3, and opens Friday, Feb. 4, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Shows are set for 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Feb. 27. Matinees are set for 2 p.m. Sundays.

A benefit performance for Personal Peace Foundation will be offered at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2. Tickets for the benefit performance cost $20. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered Wednesday, Feb. 9, and a Q&A session with the show's director and cast will be available after the performance on Friday, Feb. 11.

"A Few Good Men" launched Aaron Sorkin's career as a playwright and screenwriter. Inspiration for the play came from his sister, an enlisted member of the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG Corps, who was at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to defend a group of Marines who hazed a fellow private under the orders of a superior officer.

The Broadway production of "A Few Good Men" premiered in 1989 and ran for nearly 500 performances. Sorkin received the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding American Playwright for the stage version and went on to write the screenplay for a film adaptation that starred Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Sorkin's other screenplays include "The American President," the Emmy Award-winning "The West Wing" and "The Social Network," nominated for eight Academy Awards.

"The play is more even-handed than the film. They make the colonel out to be a one-note villain," Genise says. "There also are some funny moments that were totally missed in the film. Sorkin is a wonderful writer. He makes political points, but makes you laugh. The play would be a dirge if it was all about the misuse of power."

Camelot's production of "A Few Good Men" features Dayvin Turchiano as Lt. Daniel Kaffee, Danielle Pecoff as Lt. Cmdr. JoAnne Galloway and Brian Fraser as Col. Nathan R. Jessep.

"The play is written as though Jessep is a good old boy from the South," Genise says. "The role gives the character humanity. There is a point in the play when Jessep realizes that he has let two young Marines down, and he deals with that cognitive dissonance."

Played by Fraser, the character is brilliant. Really scary, Genise says. Some of the scenes are rife with suspense.

Fraser has appeared in many regional theater productions in the Rogue Valley. Turchiano appeared as Andrew Rally in Camelot's 2010 production of "I Hate Hamlet." Pecoff is a graduate of Southern Oregon University's Theatre Arts program.

The cast also includes Bob Brazeau, Jonathan Chenjeri, A.J. Falk, Casey Fabion, Rich Gleitsmann, Paul R. Jones, Michael Maisonnueve, Brandon Manley, Jonathan Andrew Oles, Barbara Rains, Roy Rains, Geoff Schaffer, Jack Seybold, Grant Shephard and Peter Wickliff.

"Sorkin's play asks for the best that the cast has as actors and human beings," Genise says. "All of the characters have that arc of self-discovery. Americans have an incredible idealism underneath everything that they do. How do we live with it when we discover that what we've done is outside of our ideals?"

Scenic design is by Don Zastoupil, lighting by Bart Grady, sound and video by Brian O'Connor and costumes by Joseph Holt. The production is dedicated to the late Bill Patton.

Regular show tickets cost $20, $18 for students and seniors and $10 for the preview. Tickets are available at the theater's box office from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and one hour before performances; online at www.camelottheatre.org; or by calling 541-535-5250. A fee of $4 is charged for advance ticket orders. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket. Student rush tickets cost $10 (cash only) and are offered five minutes before curtain, if available.

Left to right: Dayvin Turchiano, Brian Fraser and Danielle Pecoff appear in Camelot Theatre's production of 'A Few Good Men.' - Photo illustration by Sarah Cribb