In 1962, a group of Fayetteville actors got together to put on a show. Much like the movies of old, the whole gang got together and staged the courtroom drama The Night of January 16th. They performed the play at the old Fayetteville Courthouse. Everything from props to lights was borrowed. And from that humble beginning, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre was born.
It seems ﬁtting that the theatre kicks-off its Golden Anniversary 50th Season by restaging that ﬁrst show. For one weekend only, The Night of January 16th will be on stage at the historic Cumberland County Courthouse, under the direction of Mayon Weeks, who directed the ﬁrst show.
The play, written by Ayn Rand, was inspired by the death of the “Match King,” Ivar Kreuger. First produced in 1934, it takes place entirely in a court room and is centered on a murder trial. It was a hit of the 1935-36 Broadway season. The play deals with issues of a man’s ability to regard oneself as important and exist in a society where moral decay is ever prevalent. It also deals with issues of love, loyalty and betrayal.
One particularly interesting feature of the play is that members of the audience are picked to take on the role of jury members each night. Depending on whether the “jury” ﬁnds the defendant in the play, guilty or not guilty, the play has a different ending. Another unique feature of the play is that it does not state what the true events were on the night of January 16, forcing the actors performing the show to decide how much of their character’s testimony is actually true. Since several witnesses contradict each other, it is almost certain that some of them are lying.
The play features many well known Fayetteville actors, including attorney Coy Brewer and Judge Robert Stiehl, who will bring some reality to the drama.
The show runs from Thursday, Sept. 8 to Sunday, Sept. 10. Thursday through Saturday, shows are at 8 p.m. Sunday’s show is at 2 p.m. Tickets range in price from $12 to $40.For more information, visit the CFRT website at www.cfrt.org.