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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Chilling drama, for a change
In The Bad Seed, an adorable little girl turns out to be the essence of evil.
By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN, Arts & Enterainment
Published October 19, 2007
Genevieve Griffin plays Christine Penmark, the mother of a murderous little girl, in Richey Suncoast Theatre's dark drama, The Bad Seed.
[David Degner | Times]
In recent years, Richey Suncoast Theatre has seen increasing success doing musicals, comedies and farces, so it is interesting to see the theater schedule the chilling dramaThe Bad Seed, the tale of a seemingly adorable little girl who is actually a ruthless and unremorseful serial killer, in its 2007-08 season.
"We try to do a drama every five years or so," said Charlie Skelton, president of the theater's board of directors.
Indeed, the last time the theater did a serious drama was in its 2003-04 season, Somerset Maugham's classicRain.
The Bad Seed debuted on Broadway in 1954, the first time that a child had been depicted as the essence of evil. It came at a time when the debate over the "nature vs. nurture" theories of personality development was raging, and the play was groundbreaking in many ways.
It was made into a movie in 1956, but a homicidal little girl getting away with murder was considered so shocking that the producers were forced to tack on a new, rather implausible (and perhaps even more shocking) ending.
The play at Richey Suncoast , which runs through Nov. 4, stays true to the original script.
In it, little Rhoda Penmark (Sandrinne Edstrom, Josie in George M!) seems to be a sweet and charming child, forever trying to please the grownups.
A series of events begins to worry her mother, Christine (Genevieve Griffin, Maggie in Anything Goes), who has recently learned from her adoptive father, Richard (Joe Connelly, Grunnion in Love, Sex and the I.R.S.), that her own birth mother was a psychopathic killer.
When little Rhoda seems to be nearby as a series of violent deaths take place in the neighborhood, Christine wonders whether she herself has been the conduit of a murderous trait from her mother to her child.
There's the death of Rhoda's schoolmate Claude Daigle, who mysteriously drowned after he won a penmanship medal that Rhoda believed should have gone to her. Then there was an elderly lady who crossed Rhoda's path and then had a fatal accident.
The weird handyman LeRoy (Jim Poe, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof) sees Rhoda for what she is and taunts her about "little blue and pink electric chairs" for kids. Is LeRoy endangering himself with such taunts?
Christine's worry intensifies when a drunken Mrs. Daigle (Ann Lakey, Maria in Anything Goes) unexpectedly shows up at the Penmark house to pour out her sorrow at the death of her boy and implies that Rhoda had something to do with it.
But even if Christine knows for sure that her daughter is dangerous, what is she to do? That's the dilemma posed by playwright Maxwell Anderson in this classic piece of theater.
Longtime theater patrons will remember that Richey Suncoast first presented The Bad Seed in its 1995 Encore Series of shows.
If you go
'The Bad Seed'
Where: Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey
When: Weekends through Nov. 4. Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Tickets are $15. The box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (727) 842-6777.