"I certainly applaud French's good fortune, and wish him well with his new television series," said Playhouse artistic director Sheldon Epps in a statement. "It is indeed our hope to produce Stoneface at some point in the future. However, making this shift does give us the opportunity to make an incredibly timely choice and to further a much needed conversation in our community and in our nation. I believe that Twelve Angry Men, as it will be cast for our production, will prompt serious and profound dialogue onstage and off about the vitally important issue of race in America. In remarkably startling ways, the play reflects issues that are daily in the headlines. It mirrors the ongoing challenges that come from assumptions, pre-conceptions, and prejudices that still exist in our country. It is important for the theatre to sometimes face hard issues through our art form. Certainly doing this particular play, at this particular time, in this particular way will do that in a manner that is both theatrically and culturally exciting, potentially explosive and very necessary."
Twelve Angry Men is scheduled to run Nov. 5-Dec. 1, with an official opening set for Nov. 10.
The cast for the Playhouse presentation will comprise a mix of African-American and white actors. Casting and the creative team will be announced at a later date.
"The Pasadena Playhouse has a national reputation for creating theatre that reflects our multicultural American landscape," said executive director Elizabeth Doran. "Our plays become a catalyst for conversations about diversity, instigating conversations about issues that swell to the surface of our collective consciousness. When Sheldon saw the opportunity to bring this work to our stage now, when our President has asked us to take the conversation on race into our churches, homes, and communities, I could not have been more thrilled that we will take it to our stage."
Twelve Angry Men, according to press notes, "unfolds in a New York City courtroom on a sweltering August evening in 1955 as a jury is filed into a deliberation room. They are tasked with determining the verdict in a murder case in which a young man is accused of killing his father and faces the death penalty if found guilty. These dozen nameless men find themselves in the role of potential executioner, but first they must face themselves, their biases and their own sense of justice. What starts as an open-and-shut case soon twists into an edge of your seat drama as each juror begins to question how he should cast their vote." The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, CA. For more information and tickets, visit PasadenaPlayhouse.org.