Thursday, May 3, 2018

JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG • The Midnight Company

Between 1945 and 1946 in Nuremberg, Germany, prominent Nazi officers were brought to account by the Allied Forces for war crimes after World War II. Abby Mann’s fictionalized account focuses on the 1947 Judges' Trial, one of a string of military tribunals that took place after the major players had been convicted. Adapted from his 1959 teleplay, Mann is able to find the grays in-between the black and white atrocities that took place after the Nazi’s rise. Under the direction of Ellie Schwetye, The Midnight Company’s staging last week at the Missouri History Museum offered not only some strong performances, but also a brutal look at the underside of love of country and the consequences of compliance. And a shock of relevance.

Judge Dan Haywood, played with homespun charm by Joe Hanrahan, wasn’t the tribunal’s first choice for presiding judge. But after a lost re-election bid in North Carolina and the death of his wife, this district court judge found himself in Nuremberg with two other American judges, hearing testimony from key witnesses in the trial of three German judges -- complicit in allowing the law to become bent to serve the Third Reich.
Colonel Tad Parker (Chuck Winning)
and Oscar Rolfe (Cassidy Flynn).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
The prosecuting attorney, Colonel Tad Parker (a ferocious Chuck Winning), can barely contain the disgust he feels for the German judges. Defense attorney, Oscar Rolfe (an ardent, curt Cassidy Flynn), valiantly tries to make the case for a patriotic stance against integration, and that if the German judges are guilty, so are the nations that make up the Allied Forces for turning a blind eye.

While in Germany, Judge Haywood is staying in the grand house that used to belong to Frau Margarete Bertholt (Rachel Tibbetts), a German officer’s widow. Soft-spoken and dignified, she insists she knew nothing of the Reich’s barbarity, even as Hitler’s chokehold on the country tightened. Tibbetts does some fine work as Bertholt, who seems like she’s still trying to make sense of what happened in her country, but ruffled and defensive when her late husband’s honor is called into question. Francesca Ferrari is Maria Wallner, a witness whose Jewish friend was killed after they became intimate, and Michael B. Perkins is Rudolph Peterson, who gives harrowing testimony about his forced sterilization. Poignant conversations between the judge and Bertholt, set against chilling witness testimony, illustrate the unsettling truth of how small consents pave the way for ghastly successions.

Judge Dan Haywood (Joe Hanrahan)
and Frau Margarete Bertholt (Rachel Tibbetts).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
In addition to these unwavering performances, Steve Callahan does a wonderful job as Ernst Janning, the most prominent of the German judges -- so defiant that he doesn’t even speak to the court to enter a plea, refusing to acknowledge the authority of the tribunal. Later, in an impressive turn, he takes the stand and expresses his heartfelt remorse, hoping to annul his guilt.

Oscar Rolfe (Cassidy Flynn)
and Ernst Janning (Steve Callahan).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Schwetye kept the play focused and moving at a good clip, despite an array of views from several sides, in an impactful evening of terrific theatre.


Written by Abby Mann
Directed by Ellie Schwetye
Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Blvd.
Run concluded | tickets: $18 - $20

Colonel Tad Parker (Chuck Winning)
and Maria Wallner (Francesca Ferrari).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
General Matthew Merrin: Mark Abels
Colonel Tad Parker: Chuck Winning
Captain Harrison Byers: Jaz Tucker
Judge Dan Haywood: Joe Hanrahan
Judge Curtis Ives: Jack Corey
Judge Ken Norris: Charlie Heuvelman
Emil Hahn: Terry TenBroek
Frederick Hoffstetter: Hal Morgan 
Ernst Janning: Steve Callahan
Oscar Rolfe: Cassidy Flynn
Dr. Karl Wickert: Steve Garrett
Mrs. Habelstadt: Charlotte Dougherty
Frau Margarete Bertholt: Rachel Tibbetts

The cast of Judgment at Nuremberg.
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell
Rudolph Peterson: Michael B. Perkins
Maria Wallner: Francesca Ferrari
Soldier/Waiter: Alex Fyles

Stage Manager: Beth Equality Van Pelt
Assistant Stage Manager: Alex Fyles
Lighting Designer: Bess Moynihan
Costume Designer: Sarah Porter
Scenic Designer: Jonah Sheckler
Video Designer: Michael B. Perkins
Sound Designer: Ellie Schwetye
Dialect Coach: Pamela Reckamp
Graphic Designer: Dottie Quick
Promotional Photos: Todd Davis
Production Photos: Joey Rumpell

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