, Newburyport, MA


July 26, 2013

Two decades of 'Cry Innocent'

Creators working on film version of 1992 play about Salem Witch Trials


“You never know what’s going to happen. Birds fly in the windows, little kids walk up on the stage,” Mark Stevick said, chuckling. “ ... It’s always fun for me when I’m there at Old Town Hall as the audience is leaving, and I hear a family debating among themselves about the characters and aspects of the show.”

The Stevicks aim to make the film version of “Cry Innocent” interactive, like the play, with viewers selecting questions and picking different endings through a DVD menu or an online platform. Footage from past years will be combined with scenes filmed this spring at Pioneer Village, a Colonial-style living history site at Forest River Park.

Scenes shot in the governor’s house, one of Pioneer Village’s thatched-roof cottages, are much more intimate than in Old Town Hall, but there are other differences, as well, Kristina Stevick notes.

In the film, for example, there’s one actor for each character; in the play, a smaller cast of actors performs multiple roles.

“It’s a very different way of presenting the information,” she said. “ ... It’s going to feel like two very different experiences.”

After two decades of “Cry Innocent,” this year’s film project is “a natural next step,” Mark Stevick said.

Audience members have been interested in a DVD version of the play for a while, he said, and he had time to devote to it this spring while he was on sabbatical.

The project has served as a reunion for cast members from years past, many of whom have built careers in the arts, he said.

“I think ‘Cry Innocent’ had a significant role in our development as professionals, in our careers,” he said. “ ... This is an important play for all of us.”

“We are grateful for the support that many different (Salem) entities have shown to History Alive! and ‘Cry Innocent’ over the years,” he said. “Without their welcome and continued encouragement, we wouldn’t be here still.”

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