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January 24, 2013

Intense show coming to The Box

Once a controversial off-Broadway play, then movie, ‘Extremities’ runs through February

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Amanda Sayers, of New Baltimore, will be playing the role of Marjorie in the stage production of “Extremities” at The Box Theater in Mount Clemens through February.

MOUNT CLEMENS — For Amanda Sayers, preparing for the role of the victim in “Extremities” has been challenging, to say the least.

“Emotionally, it’s the hardest part I’ve ever played,” said the 32-year-old New Baltimore resident and mother of two. “Usually I get the role of the princess or the sunny girl or someone upbeat. Playing a rape victim who goes crazy and wants to kill her attacker is an emotional rollercoaster.”

“Extremities,” as it was portrayed in the 1986 film, tells the tale of a young woman named Marjorie who is attacked late one night by a man with a knife in the deserted parking lot near where she works. Marjorie manages to escape, but her assailant flees with her purse, which contains her driver’s license.

As the plot proceeds, the police are unable to help, so Marjorie returns home, where she lives with two female roommates.

Rodel Salzaar’s version of “Extremities,” a play that will be running at The Box Theater in Mount Clemens through February, starts when the attacker walks into Marjorie’s home while she is alone.

The man proceeds to mentally and physically assault Marjorie, until she is able to turn the tables, eventually tying him up in her home. Her roommates, Patricia, played by Diana Turner from Harrison Township, and Terry, played by Mandy Logsdon from Clinton Township, return home later that day and try to convince Marjorie to contact police.

Marjorie, played by Sayers, is emotionally shattered by the abuse she sustained and refuses to listen. At times, the attacker comes close to convincing Patricia and Terry that Marjorie is lying, but in the end, he confesses that he had been stalking Marjorie after seeing her ride her bike past a road repair site where he’d been working — he waited for the opportune time to strike. The attacker, named Raul in the upcoming play, is portrayed by Jeremy Strebendt from Chesterfield Township.

Though this version of the controversial 1982 off-Broadway play, in which the role of Marjorie was portrayed by both Susan Sarandon and Farrah Fawcett, differs from that of the 1986 film also starring Fawcett, it nonetheless has the same intense and violent scenes that made the movie a hit and garnered Fawcett a Golden Globe award.

The play is being directed by Salzaar, 35, of Madison Heights, a man with years of experience putting on musicals at The Box and throughout metro Detroit.

“This is very different, as most of the shows I have directed have been musicals,” said Salzaar, who has directed recent hits like “The Full Monty,” “Titanic: The Musical” and “Evita.” “In this show, there are so many psychological issues that are being dealt with. The main character is dealing with rape. … There’s a lot of traumatic events going on.”

Sayers, who has played roles in the Sterling Civic Theatre’s productions of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” and “Cinderella,” said she often has a difficult time getting out of character after rehearsals for “Extremities” because the scenes are so powerful and wrought with emotion from everyone in the cast.

“Theater and acting has always been therapeutic for me,” she said. “But this show is definitely more of a challenge; it’s much more of a learning experience for me. I’m not used to playing a dark role.”

But Salzaar said Sayers has channeled Marjorie like he never expected.

“She’s surprised me a lot from auditions until now,” he said. “She’s willing to take on anything and try anything. She’s grown and has really developed as an actress through the process of the play.”

“Extremities,” which contains adult content, will be performed Feb. 8-10, Feb. 14-16, and Feb. 22-23. All shows start at 8 p.m., and Sunday shows are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 and $16 for students and seniors. They can be purchased by contacting The Box office at (586) 954-2677 or online at www.theboxtheater.com. The theater is located at 90 Macomb Place.