Friday, June 30, 2006
6/30/06- The People vs. Gillette (Play Review)
Last week at Herkimer County Community College, I took part in a really historic event. Last week marked the premiere performance of this summer's Gillette Trial Reenactment, entitled "The People vs. Gillette," written by Jack Sherman, a judge from Ithaca. He first originated the idea for the trial reenactment back in 1977 while he was an assistant district attorney in Herkimer and revived it for the centennial of Chester's famous trial for the murder of his pregnant sweetheart, Grace Brown.
Members of the Ilion Little Theater Club played the key characters in the reenactment with Sherman playing Judge Irving Devendorf. The performances were really interesting and it felt like you were immediately taken back to the legendary trial that made headlines back in 1906.
I was there as a volunteer, but I was able to see the show anyway. For me a few characters stood out for me, including the guy who played District Attorney George Ward. He brought depth to the role of Ward and the opening scene where he read Grace's letters in open court brought out the emotional quality of the man he played. Also for me, Art Wilks stole the show as Undersheriff Austin Klock. He brought humor and wit to the show and it was very well done. And the climatic showdown between Chester and Ward, which took place during the second half of the reenactment gave you a sense into what it was really like. The guy who played Chester also did a pretty good job.
In case you missed it at HCCC, the next reenactment will be held on July 15 and 16 in Old Forge before returning to Herkimer on July 21 at the very same courthouse where the trial actually took place. That is definitely not to be missed. And there will be one more performance at HCCC on July 22.
In the meantime the next Gillette-related even is today at Ward's Pond Bed and Breakfast in Dolgeville. It is a dramatic reading of Grace's letters called "My Dear Chester, again written by Jack Sherman. Then on July 11, the memorial for Grace will be held at Big Moose Lake. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend either one, but I will be there at least in spirit.