SANDY — The Hale Centre Theatre is hoping its newest play, “Wait Until Dark,” will help theatergoers come to their senses.
The drama, which debuted on Broadway in 1966 and was also adapted into a film version starring Audrey Hepburn, focuses on Susy Hendrix, a blind woman. Her husband unknowingly brings home drugs hidden inside a doll that some criminals are determined to steal from the newlyweds’ Greenwich basement apartment.
To build suspense and to connect audiences with what Susy is experiencing, the creative staff is building a show that’s more than meets the eye.
“We have been working on some technical elements that incorporate ... the senses,” said Jenn Stapley Taylor, HCT’s scenic and costume designer. “There is the visual, of course, with lights and scenery, but … some of it will strongly rely on the audible. We have tried to create a very film noir feel with scenery, music and lights.”
There are scenes completely in the dark, added Danna Barney, HCT’s head of lighting.
“You get a sense of the terror this blind woman is going through,” she said.
The staff is also working to incorporate temperature changes.
“We’re really trying to heighten other senses by taking away sight,” Barney said.
For Taylor, another unusual aspect for “Wait Until Dark” has been creating a set with walls.
“I would say one of the most unique parts would be designing the exterior spaces, such as the bedroom entry hall and outside the apartment windows,” she said. “All of the critical action takes place in the main room of the apartment, but there is so much story that is happening on the outside, as well.”
The show’s nuances have made designing the set a difficult but fun puzzle for Taylor.
“The Jewel Box is a fantastic space, but small. Trying to map out the most critical moments to make sure the entire audience can see them has been quite a challenge,” she said.
One of Taylor’s favorite logistical challenges was choosing the refrigerator’s location.
“It plays a very important part and, in fact, it has moved three times during the rehearsal process,” she said.
The details of the Hendrixes’ apartment are what Taylor hopes the audience will notice, not just because they create a cozy home for a couple in love but also because they add to the suspenseful tension.
Similarly, Barney said she hopes that audience members can leave the show recognizing that something about the lighting was different than a typical play — even if they can’t exactly put their finger on what made it different.
“Normally with a nonmusicals, we try to make the scenes fun, bright and playful, but with ‘Wait Until Dark,’ we almost want the opposite,” she said. “We want the mystery of shadow and the unknown to come through.”
As all the elements come together, it should create a piece that’s just the right amount of scary.
“I think we’re building a lot of suspense and the audience will be on edge — at least that’s what we’re hoping for,” Barney said. “There are a couple of 'gotcha' places where people might jump if they startle easily, but there’s nothing terrifying. People shouldn’t have nightmares after seeing it.”
Content advisory: "Wait Until Dark" includes mild violence, although not of a graphic nature, and is probably too intense for young children.
If you go …
What: “Wait Until Dark”
When: Sept. 12-Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; Saturday matinees at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Where: Hale Centre Theatre Jewel Box Theatre, 9900 S. Monroe St., Sandy
How much: $36-$44 for adults, $18-$20 for youths ages 5-17