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12 Angry Men: the latest offering from Niceville's Storyhouse Theater

Be on the lookout – 12 angry men are coming to Niceville.

Make that “Twelve Angry Men,” the classic courthouse drama starring some of our area’s most talented actors.

Originally written as a play for television in 1953, directors adapted the script for the stage. The script later became the basis for a film in 1957. The title references the 12 jurors called upon to decide the fate of a young man accused of killing his abusive father. Under New York state law at the time, women were not allowed to serve on juries for capital cases, hence the all-male cast.

The drama is just the latest production from The Story House, a black box/cabaret-style theater and performance space located next to Café Bienville at 773 John Sims Parkway. Performances begin on July 14 at 7:30 p.m., followed by shows on July 15 at 7:30 p.m., July 16 at 2:30 p.m., and July 20 – 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online at thestoryhouseofniceville.com. Refreshments are available from Café Bienville before the show and during intermission.

The story of Story House

When Amy Kern-Smith and her family moved from Indianapolis to the area eight years ago, she was disappointed to learn that Niceville didn’t have a community theatre organization.

“My husband and I both come from arts backgrounds,” Kern-Smith said. “It was my dream to open a community space where we could host music nights and other performances.”

As luck would have it, when Kern-Smith’s friends Matt and Melissa French relocated their Café Bienville to a spot on John Sims Parkway, they offered to lease space to her. After working on the location for a year and a half – “We totally gutted it,” she said – The Story House opened in January 2020.

That was just two months before the world shut down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic – not exactly the best time to invite strangers to gather in a confined space to watch a live performance. The already small location, which has a capacity for 50 audience members, was limited to just 25 paying guests.

“It was tough,” Kern-Smith recalled. “But we survived, and now we’ve built this family of volunteers that we get to do life with. The Story House provides a great venue for people who love the arts but aren’t necessarily interested in pursuing them full-time.”

a smiling woman.
Amy Kern-Smith leads the Storyhouse Niceville operation.

Expanding horizons

“Twelve Angry Men” is the first drama that Kern-Smith and her company have undertaken. Previously, The Story House has presented cabaret musical performances, comedies, improv nights, and extremely popular holiday musical showcases.

Kern-Smith said she wanted to take on “Twelve Angry Men” because she “loves period pieces.”

“Currently, we live in a world where our own perspective can blur what is right in front of us,” she said. “These twelve different men come from all walks of life and look at the same scenario from different perspectives. What these men learn about themselves is what makes the play so interesting.”

Coming attractions

In August, The Story House will present “Celebrating Cinema,” a review featuring songs and stories from the movies. The company is also working on the Florida premieres of two new works: “J. Eyre,” a musical by Paige Scott slated for September, and “Burn,” a thriller by Canadian playwright John Muggleton. The latter will debuts in October.
 
In the meantime, tickets are going fast for “Twelve Angry Men.”
 
“This is the second show in a row that I anticipate selling out,” Kern-Smith said. “That’s really encouraging. It tells me that there’s an audience; there’s a need for local live theater. 
 
“Our patrons are amazing,” she added. “I love bringing the arts to our community.” 

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