Playwright Elihu Winer may have released his newest production “Anatomy of a Murder” in 1963, but its story began long before.
Ten years prior, a local lieutenant stationed in Big Bay, Michigan murdered the owner of a nearby bar on the grounds that the owner had raped his wife. The state brought the issue before the court, but the local judge fell sick before the case could begin. They soon hired Judge Charles O. Arch from Hillsdale County.
Arch accepted and planned to spend his extra time in the Upper Peninsula at his cottage fishing in Big Bay. The lieutenant’s defense attorney, John Voelker, later made the trial into a novel, which was later turned into a popular film and eventually a play.
Starting next week, the Sauk Theatre will perform “Anatomy of a Murder,” bringing this local story to a local stage.
A special performance at the Hillsdale Courthouse, where Judge Arch had served, has already sold out. But, the show will also be performed at the Sauk Theatre on Oct 11 – 13 and 18 – 20 at 8:00 p.m. with additional shows on Oct. 14 and 21 at 3 p.m. Tickets will be $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students with an ID card, and $8 for children.
The directors and actors of the show expressed excitement about bringing the story to life, as it challenges the audience with issues that remain prevalent today.
“It has a lot of relevance to what’s going on in today’s world,” said Trinity Bird, executive director at the Sauk. “The prosecutor [in the play] raises the question at one point if the defendant’s wife was actually assaulted, and that sounds like it came right from CNN or Fox.”
Not only an opportunity to learn Michigan history and grapple with relevant issues, the play is also just plain entertaining.
“Not to give too much away, but there’s something that happens at the very end of the play that you just don’t see coming,” Bird said. “That’s just good writing.”