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Carpenter Square Theatre Sews Up ‘The Scarlet Letter’

staff report


Carpenter Square Theatre presents a unique adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter” April 1-23, the only drama in the theater’s 27th Season. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic exploration of sin, hypocrisy and revenge gets a gripping, sexually-charged reworking in this tale of one of literature’s most legendary women – one who is forced to wear the letter “A” for adultery.

All performances are at the Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center, located at 2001 E. Reno at the intersection of Reno and Martin Luther King. Playgoers may exit I-40 at Eastern/M.L. King and proceed north on M.L. King.

The story of “The Scarlet Letter” has the fascination of prime gossip or a fable, and may be familiar even to people who have never read Hawthorne’s novel or seen any previous films or plays of it.

Using only seven characters, Phyllis Nagy’s economic play cuts to the essence of the original story.

Told through the eyes of Hester Prynne’s now grown “love child” Pearl, “The Scarlet Letter” follows Hester who was sent to the Puritan Boston colony in Massachusetts by her husband, who then disappeared. During her husband’s long absence and presumed death, Hester had an affair with the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, and became pregnant.

Hester bravely refuses to name her partner in sin, sparing him the disgrace and punishment. She escapes the death sentence, but Governor Bellingham orders her to wear an embroidered letter “A” for her sin of adultery for the rest of her life. Her estranged husband arrives in Boston, disguised as a physician, and sees the child Pearl with Hester, held up for ridicule on scaffolding in the town square.

Although Hester will not reveal the child’s father’s name to him, he ferrets out the identity and “befriends” him.  Dr. Chillingworth carries out a terrible revenge on the Reverend Dimmesdale. Thanks to Dr. Chillingworth’s “medicines” and attention, Dimmesdale’s health gets weaker as his guilt saps his spirit.  Hester raises her “wild child”, Pearl, on her own, keeps both men’s secrets, and plans for the day when Dimmesdale will claim her and they can flee the Puritanical colonies.

Rhonda Clark directs the taut drama. Michelle Swink stars as Hester Prynne, with co-star Sean Eckart as Reverend Dimmesdale. Crystal Ecker portrays their daughter Pearl, while Brent Weber is the vengeful Dr. Chillingworth. Nick Backes is Governor Bellingham, Tarah Sparks is the governor’s sexy sister who practices witchcraft, and Todd Murray is the kind Boston jailer.  The set design is by Caleb Schnackenberg, costume design by Corey Martin and lighting design is by Scott Hynes. Marilyn Ragan is the production stage manager.

Specific performance dates and times are: April 1-2, 8-9 at 8 p.m.; April 14 at 7:30 p.m.; April 15-16 at 8 p.m.; April 17 at 2 p.m.; April 21 7:30 p.m.; April 22-23 at 8 p.m.

Opening night theatergoers on April 1 are invited to a post-show party with complimentary food and a cash bar.  Special two-for-one ticket prices are offered on April 14 and 21.

The production is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and the Allied Arts Foundation. Ms. Laurel Jaworsky is the Cast Sponsor for “The Scarlet Letter,” while Kimberly and Scott Weaver are the Opening Night Party Sponsors. The Bricktown Hotel & Convention Center serves as co-producer for the production.


For information and tickets, call the Carpenter Square Theatre box office at 405-232-6500 or visit online at

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