, Newburyport, MA


November 14, 2013

Building suspense

Psychological thriller 'Wait Until Dark' opens at Firehouse tonight


The closest examples she can think of are the past productions of Stephen King’s “Misery” and Marsha Norman’s “’Night, Mother.”

While preparing for the production, Wilkinson made the decision not to watch the movie until last week. Though she had seen it as a youth, she wanted to come up with her own ideas without being influenced by the film.

When she did view it, “It was really interesting,” she said. “It felt good to see that we were right on the money.”

She also wanted to watch it to get inspiration for the set, which is a 1960s-style apartment filled with furnishings and appliances true to the time period. No detail is overlooked, down to the floral tablecloth and the vintage food items that fill the refrigerator.

“The set feels like a combination of my mother’s, grandmother’s and aunt’s homes,” said Wilkinson, who turned to Facebook and the community to gather many of the items. “My favorite part of any show is finding props.”

Also onstage is a window over the kitchen sink where the audience can see people walking by the apartment and a set of stairs meant to represent the path from Gloria’s home.

“This is the biggest, most intricate set I’ve worked on,” said Berit Palma, who plays Gloria in the show.

Though Berit, 13, has been in a number of shows at the Firehouse and elsewhere, this is the first time she has been the only child in the cast. The table read for the play was her first ever, though Wilkinson didn’t realize that until after the fact.

“She’s got her notebook, and she’s so prepared,” Wilkinson said. “She held herself so well, and she performed so well.”

“It was definitely kind of intimidating the first time,” said Berit, a student at River Valley Charter School in Newburyport.

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