Arts & Leisure

Spellbinding “Wait Until Dark”

DESI MOLINARI as Susy Hendrix and Gregory Stokes as Sam Hendrix in the Westminster Community Playhouse production of “Wait Until Dark” (Photo by Mihai Suciu).

By Thom deMartino/Orange County Tribune

Sometimes seeing clearly has nothing to do with sight.

The Westminster Community Playhouse has just raised the curtain on its 63rd season with a tale of deceit and desperation, in the Pricilla Gonzales-Suciu-directed “Wait Until Dark”. Skullduggery is afoot, as the audience is introduced to a pair of criminals, both searching through a Greenwich Village apartment, the occupants not at home.

They are interrupted by the mysterious (and menacing) Mr. Roat (Neil Switzer), who proceeds to explain that the doll they are searching for – filled with drugs – is nowhere to be found in the apartment, and that he himself has done away with Lisa, the woman who had manipulated both criminals to do her own dirty work. Given the doll by the mysterious lady in a Canadian airport, Sam Hendrix (Gregory Stokes) has brought it home to his wife Susy (Desi Molinari), but it has somehow since gone missing.

Roat explains to the criminals that they must persuade the young wife to help them find it, by pretending to be one of her husband’s friends, and a police detective, respectively. One will play “Mike Talman” (Bobby Lux), the other will be “Sgt. Carlino”: as Susy is blind, the trio think they’ll have an easy time manipulating the young woman to assist them.

But Susy herself has no idea what has become of the doll, even questioning Gloria (Lizzy Calvano), the (usually) helpful daughter of the upstairs neighbor. The fitful girl is offended by the question, but Susy lets it go. Meanwhile, Roat poses as an older man (“Harry Roat, Sr) and ransacks the blind woman’s home after forcing his way in and threatening her and her husband. Deceived into thinking she has contacted the police, Susy is now ensnared in the scheme of “Mike”, “Sgt. Carlino” and “Roat”. But there’s more than one way to be blind: can the thieves, themselves blinded by arrogance, get the best of the suspicious young woman, or will she somehow bring their misdeeds to light?

It’s the beginning of a brand-new and promising season at the beloved Westminster Community Playhouse, and they’re starting off the All Hallows season right with this tale of deception, double-cross and murder. Adding to the excitement are a number of new faces to WCP, all of whom made stellar work of their roles in the production.

Some include Calvano’s defiant Gloria, Cartagena’s bullying Carlino, and Lux’s strangely sympathetic Mike. However, it’s Switzer’s interpretation of Roat, and his interactions with Molinari’s clever and capable Susy, that really give presence and an alarming air to the character.

Molinari herself gives an exceptional, layered performance as the blind woman, initially going along with the strange events, but with her (correct) suspicions eventually getting the best of her.

With an excellent, suspenseful start to the holiday season, Westminster Community Playhouse’s “Wait Until Dark” is a perfect treat for mystery lovers to see ASAP, before the stage lights go dark on this marvelous show.

“Wait Until Dark”, Desi Molinari, Neil Switzer and Bobby Lux star in this gripping tale of deception. Now playing through October 8 at the Westminster Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster. Ticketing information available online at, or call (714) 893-8626.

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