RPP’s ‘Inherit the Wind’ is a star-studded tempest

November 6, 2021
By Staff Report

You will be seeing stars and lots of them too, when you see Royal Palm Player’s “Inherit the Wind,” a knockout courtroom battle reenactment based on the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial in this outdoor, staged reading. In order to deal with the challenges brought on by COVID, the play was moved to the Boca Grande Community Center Friends Pavilion to allow for a safer and therefore more pleasurable viewing experience. Fortunately for us, Director Meryl Schaffer did a masterful job of dealing with the setbacks of lighting, sound, staging and basically everything involved with changing a venue from inside to outside. Meryl always creates perfection and this production is no exception. Her skillful use of well-seasoned actors to anchor the play while giving less experienced actors a chance to shine is brilliant.

The audience is delighted by the compelling performances of Jim Grant, Hal McCombs and Boots Tolsdorf. Jim Grant who plays Matthew Harrison Brady, a nationally known attorney and three-time loser in presidential campaigns had this to say about the play, “It’s been an awesome experience and well worth supporting.” Jim’s portrayal of Brady as a boastful, arrogant, bloviating and narrow-minded man is truly astonishing and his death scene is quite moving and convincing. Hal McCombs plays Henry Drummond, also a nationally known attorney and a dynamic public speaker, who has been sent to defend Bertram Cates, deftly played by Lew Hastings, who is prosecuted for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution to high school students, contrary to state law. Hal plays his role with conviction, charm and humor and the audience can’t help but like him. Boots Tolsdorf gives a great performance as E.K. Hornbeck, a cynical, brilliant newspaper columnist sent to cover the trial. When asked to comment, Tolsdorf said, “This is a very thought provoking and timely play.”

A wonderful supporting cast comprised of seasoned Royal Palm Players includes stars Lynda Grant, Sally B. Johnson, Mark Masselink, Sarah McDonald, Andrea Nielsen, Cori Palmere, Peter Powell, Linda Rollyson, Nancy Ryan and Robbie Stanley.

New to the Royal Palm Players and the stage are Patty Brink and Kathy James, who is perfectly cast as the lovely Rachel Brown. James exclaimed, “This is the first time that I have been on stage in forty years and I have enjoyed every moment of it.” Jerry Edgerton, also a newcomer to the RPP stage, plays a very convincing judge. He found the play to be a “great learning experience, fun, a wonderful way to make friends and to build a sense of community.”
Linda Rollyson, Sarah McDonald, Lynda Grant, Cori Palmere, Nancy Ryan, Sally B. Johnson and Elaine Skypala each play more than two characters, both male and female, which is pure genius. This multiple casting allows for a much smaller cast, the original had 60, and also allows for more fluidity on a small stage.

There is also incredible talent behind the scenes. Robbie Stanley keeps things moving as the gifted stage manager. Arnie Preston, a very talented costume designer, worked throughout the summer and fall to find just the right look for all the actors. Kris Doubles, the assistant to Director Meryl Schaffer, thoroughly enjoys working with her and is excited to help bring life to “Inherit the Wind,” while working in the background. Six-time Emmy Award winner, Laura Brock’s sets for “Inherit” are fabulous!

There just are not enough superlatives to describe how wonderful and relevant this play is. Bravo to all who breathed life into “Inherit the Wind.” The show opens November 11 and runs through November 14. Tickets are available online at Royalpalmplayers.com, by stopping at the box office or calling 964-2670.