Melanie Hampton as Lynn Reiner; Jamie Pederson as Ed Reiner; Cora Pearlstein as Michelle Reiner (as a child). Photo by Michelle Smith Lewis.
|Cooper Harris-Turner as Scott Bartz, Melanie Hampton as Lynn Reiner, and Sara Henly-Hicks, as Michelle as an adult. Photo by Michelle Smith Lewis.|
More on Death on the Supermarket Shelf
1. What attracted you to this story?
It was a major national event. To compare it to 9/11 may seem an overstatement...but in a very real way it scared people just as much, if not more. The Twin Towers were a symbol of America's strength and for most Americans, personally remote. But the killing by Tylenol struck right at the heart of the average person's life - their local supermarket or drugstore or medicine cabinet. Death could lurk in the most innocent corner.
2. What do you hope audience members will get from it?
It's a morality play. At its core is a moral conundrum, although I'm not sure that the character who confronts it sees it as such. I want the audience to leave pondering the role of morality in public life.
3. Can you tell me in two or three sentences what researching it was like?
I didn't have the time to do first hand research. Scott Bartz's book, The Tylenol Mafia, was vital. And then I searched online for articles, photographs or other information about the various people involved. Late in the process, I had conversations with Scott and with Michelle Rosen, whose Mom was a victim of the Tylenol killer. Michelle offered invaluable input which was incorporated into the script.
I would like to ask what in your research surprised you, but only if you can answer that without giving away anything in the plot. (It is a play, after all, even if it is a true story,)
Let's use my phone call with Michelle yesterday.
Michelle had told me that the families of the six other victims had distanced themselves from the case. They didn't want to be involved in her quest to find those accountable who WERE accountable. They just wanted to be left alone. However, Michelle told me that word of the play had gotten out there...and for the first time other families were contacting her, asking about the script, if she intended to go and even one person who I believe told her that he was thinking of attending himself.