The 1891 Fredonia Opera House will present David Rintels' engaging one-man play Clarence Darrow starring James Ivey and directed by Thomas Loughlin, on Fri., Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. The two-act production serves as a kick-off to the Fredonia Storytelling Festival.
In Clarence Darrow, the legendary attorney best known for defending evolution in the "Scopes Monkey Trial" is depicted as the champion of the underdog, a lawyer for everyman from a time when the practice of law was a noble profession. The play highlights the great cases that were the defining moments of Darrow's career. Born in 1857, Darrow attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. A leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Darrow took on many cases involving labor movement issues and racial inequality. He was a strong opponent of the death penalty and accepted many cases in which there was no question of guilt, only whether the defendants would be sentenced to death or not. The most famous example of this was his defense of the Chicago thrill killers Leopold & Loeb.
James Ivey brings Darrow to life and portrays him as a passionate loner with a sense of humor, who fought for causes with every fiber of his being. Ivey has performed in more than 100 plays and musicals with roles as diverse as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, File in The Rainmaker, Harold Hill in The Music Man, J. Edgar Hoover in Splendid Rebels, Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!, Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, King Arthur in Camelot, and Edgar Lee Masters in Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.
He humbly began his performance career at Chicago's Goodman Theatre as a servant in Much Ado About Nothing. He went onto act in various venues around the Chicago area earning his Equity card playing Forrest Tucker's son in Patches at the Drury Lane South Theatre.
Ivey received his master's degree in theatre history at the University of Illinois and his doctorate from Texas Tech University. Upon completion of his doctorate, he became head of the department of theatre at Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Tex. During his nine-year stay at HSU he directed many plays including Tartuffe, Li'l Abner, Guys and Dolls, The Seagull, The Dining Room, J.B., The Triumph of Love and Exit the King.
In the fall of 2000, Ivey joined the faculty of the theatre and dance department at SUNY Fredonia as associate professor and chair of theatre. Recently promoted to full professor of theatre, Ivey will direct Carlo Goldoni's The Venetian Twins this coming spring.
Tickets may be purchased in person at the Opera House Box Office or by phone at (716) 679-1891 Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, 2-5 p.m. They also may be purchased online any time at www.fredopera.org.