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Wayside explores dark side in fall thriller

Eddie Staver III, as Mike, and Benjamin Reed, as Roat, portray two of the three villains planning to break into the Susy’s home. — Rich Cooley/Daily

Eddie Staver III, left, plays Mike in a scene of “Wait Until Dark” with Thomasin Savaiano as Susy, at Wayside Theatre in Middletown. — Rich Cooley/Daily

By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

When three con men decide to swindle a blind woman in Wayside Theatre's "Wait Until Dark," they understandably believe their plan will unfold without a problem.

They don't count on Susy's other senses making her stronger than the three men hindered by sight could imagine.

Each October, regulars to Wayside expect something wicked to make its way to the Middletown theater, and managing director, Warner Crocker, said this year's thriller will not disappoint.

"I've never read another play like this," said Benjamin Reed, who plays Roat.

The audience will watch the story unfold through Susy's eyes, Crocker said, and she's blind.

"It's an interesting challenge," said Thomasin Savaiano, who plays Susy. "I'm excited about it."

Directed by Rebecca Calkin, the story begins with the con.

"We run this con a lot," said Jody Lee, who plays Carlino, the blunt sword of the three.

"We're not bad people," he said. "We just con old women out of their money."

As Reed puts it, "We're good people who do bad things."

New to the trio, his character has "been in the business of making money by any means necessary for a long time."

"With these guys, he's always a step ahead," Reed said.

Roat is willing to go to greater lengths to get what he wants, said Lee, who calls Roat "a frightening man."

But Reed would point out, "You can't think of your character as bad. ... People aren't good or bad." Roat's intention is to pull off the burglary without hurting anyone, he said.

As for Eddie Staver III, "I play the guy who really spends the most time with Susy." As Mike, he wants her to trust him, which Staver admits is worse than what his cohorts do.

Really, though, the story belongs to Susy, and Reed said so much of it is about how she finds her identity after losing her sight only a year earlier.

Savaiano has been rehearsing her role as if she were blind, counting steps between props and other cast members -- preparation that has forced her to go against her instincts.

"I have never been blind before, before now, and I broke something immediately," Savaiano said.

Normally she would make eye contact with cast members during rehearsals, but now she can use only peripheral vision as a reference point.

"It's a challenge, it's a big challenge," she said.

As the play's title suggests, darkness will eventually be an issue for the other characters as well.

"I think it's very suggestive of how the play ends," Calkin said. "Susy is eagerly awaiting for darkness to come." That's when she'll have the advantage.

"So much of the plot builds to that kind of iconic confrontation between Roat and Susy," said Calkin, who, in her second season at Wayside, has been Crocker's assistant until now.

"We're going to honor what the audience is expecting," she said.

"This is the time of year where we always do a spooky show," Crocker said. "We've got a great classic here."

Come see the show, the cast said, but Crocker added, "I recommend they don't come alone."

"Wait Until Dark" will take place at Wayside Theatre, at 7853 Main St. in Middletown from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3. Showings are at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 7, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Aug. 29. Tickets range from $25 to $30 for adults and $23 to $30 for students and seniors. Matinees are $20 to $22. Children under the age of 18 pay $10. For more information, call 869-1776 or visit www.waysidetheatre.org.

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