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“The Guys” at Davidson Community Players Renews Our spirit of a Unified Nation

by | Sep 11, 2021

“The Guys” (John McHugh photo)

 

Just about every American over the age of twenty can readily respond to the question, “Where were you on September 11?”

Not feeling well, I was still in bed at home in Dallas, Texas. As customary, I hadn’t even gone to 6:30 AM daily mass. Hearing a radio newsflash while driving to work, my married daughter, Nadine, turned around and burst into my house yelling, “turn on the television.”

New York journalist Anne Nelson experienced the same intrusion. Her father called from his Oklahoma home urgently asking, “are you watching television?”Davidson Community Players logo

Davidson Fire Chief Ryan Monteith, a fireman at Station #17 at Charlotte Douglas International Airport twenty years ago, was alerted to potential danger for the Queen City, home to the nation’s second largest banking center.

Each of us, like our fellow citizens everywhere, began to witness the greatest terrorist attack on our country. We were united in compassion, patriotism, and possible fear. We all felt helpless. Anne Nelson tried to do something. She was used to disasters, having covered wars in Central and South America, but without a needed bag of plumber’s tools, was urged to stay away from the site. Her only tools were words.

A friend introduced Nelson to a distraught fire chief who had lost most of his crew and was seeking a writer to help him compose eulogies he had been asked to deliver at funerals for eight of his men.

She began to write The Guys, a play about the fire chief and a journalist, based on real life events. A few weeks later Anne Nelson’s friend asked if an actress he knew could perform the play at a local theatre. She turned out to be Sigourney Weaver, who played the part of Joan with Bill Murray as Nick, a role she would later reprise on film with Anthony La Paglia.

Dozens of theatre groups around the country have continued to stage The Guys since then. Davidson Community Players produced the play in 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 under the direction of Melissa Ohlman-Roberge, starring Marla Brown and Lou Dalessandro.

“The Guys” (John McHugh photo)

Once again, DCP is honoring the fallen heroes of 9/11 with Nelson’s play, The Guys, directed by the company’s Executive Director Matt Merrell, and featuring two well-known Lake Norman actors, Becca Worthington and Alan Martin. The production is terrific!

Action takes place on September 23, 2001 at the New York apartment of the journalist, Joan. Andrea Kallo designed a credible, perfect set for DCPs production. And Matt Merrell’s lighting design operated by Breanna Suarez is right on target.

It’s sound that sets the mood. The Armour Street Theatre is dark and silent. The urgent sirens from rushing fire trucks alerts the house into sudden suspense—skin tingles and eyes moisten.

A spotlight focuses on Becca Worthington, a woman—the script writer, Joan, who begins to unravel the occurrences and sets the scenes we are about to witness with her – and Alan Martin as Nick, the distraught fire chief.

Becca is so natural, a true artist. She’s comfortable in any role she portrays—this time seemingly rubbing elbows with each one in the audience while talking with us, as narrator/author of the story and as Joan, the journalist, urging Nick, the fire chief, to tell her about the men he lost. It is always so rewarding to see Becca Worthington on stage.

Alan Martin has been around forever, an area actor for the past three decades. The Guys is the third play I’ve seen him perform at DCP this year—Rounding Third and 39 Steps the others – since the theatre doors reopened last spring. Alan is credible in the role of Nick, expressing the fluctuating emotions of the agonizing fire chief, friend and leader to so many men—both untried youngsters and seasoned fighters.

Davidson Fire Chief Monteith, who understood the emotions of that 11th day in September 20 years ago, was impressed. Monteith, who had experienced the ensuing eerie “dead silence” at CLT when all flights were grounded, anticipating a possible attack that never came, called DCPs production of The Guys, “Fantastic! They were great and really captured the mood.”

I have seen them all. The Sigourney Weaver film version in 2003, Davidson Community Players’ anniversary production ten years ago and this twentieth commemorative tribute of The Guys. I spent a weekend with a friend in 2015, a 9/11 widow of the fallen towers with two small children and shared her pain. Becca Worthington and Alan Martin express it well in this 2021 version of The Guys.

The Guys is a gift Davidson Community Players has prepared for the Lake Norman community. I urge you to accept it. The play helps to renew our spirit of a unified nation at a time when we struggle with so much division. The Guys will be onstage only for the remainder of this weekend at the Armour Street Theatre through Sunday.

Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, Connie just released her latest book, "The Mongrel, Bi-cultural Adventures of a Latina-Scandinavian Youth," a memoir about her years growing up in Mexico.​

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