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Thursday is opening night for Richmond Community Theatre’s production of ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’

The cast of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" rehearses prior to the opening performance on Thursday.
RCT

ROCKINGHAM — Thursday is opening night at Richmond Community Theatre for a play that shines a spotlight on interracial relationships.

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” adapted for the stage by Todd Kreidler, is based off of the 1967 Stanly Kramer film of the same name, starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

“A progressive white couple’s proud liberal sensibilities are put to the test when their daughter brings her black fiance home to meet them,” the story’s description reads on playscripts.com.

Theatre director Merrie Dawkins, who has always been a fan of the story, describes it as a “thought-provoking romantic comedy-drama.”

“I was a young teenager when the movie came out … and it just absolutely, it did something to me,” Dawkins said. “It affected me profoundly in so many ways, so it always stuck in my head.”

Dawkins said she has watched the movie many times.

Around five years ago, Dawkins said former director Mark Colbenson had been cast in a production of the play by the Savannah Repertory Theatre.

“So we went down to see it and I was blown away by the stage production,” Dawkins said. “I was all excited. I was like, ‘Let’s come back and do this play.’”

However, Dawkins said it wasn’t available at the time for community theaters, only professional theaters.

As fate would have it, Dawkins was flipping through the script catalogs around two years ago  — “and there it was, right there! … And I jumped on it.”

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But the COVID pandemic started and it got pushed back.

“So now we’re going to do it this year, and I’m excited,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins said the cast has been rehearsing for six weeks and the set builders have been working for more than 2 months.

“There’s been a lot of time and effort put into it by the cast and the crew,” Dawkins said.

The cast includes (listed by character then actor):

  • Matilda Banks – Anitra Ingram Robinson
  • Hilary St.George – Riley Jacobs
  • Christina Drayton – Shelly Walker
  • Matt Drayton – Mark Colbenson
  • Joanna Drayton  – Liz Stewart
  • Dr. John Prentice- Austin Frye
  • Monsignor Ryan – Brian Perry  
  • John Prentice – Bruce Stanback
  • Mary Prentice – Valjean Hargrove.

The play starts at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17-19 and 24-26 with a 3 p.m. showing Feb. 20.

Tickets went on sale Feb. 1 and can be purchased online at richmondcommunitytheatre.org or at the theater’s box office 45 minutes before showtime.

 

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.