Notes I would have given the director of the production of Inherit The Wind that I saw this weekend, had the director asked:
Brady, the prosecuting attorney, didn't get where he is simply by being loud and pious. He got there by knowing how to assure roomsful of people that he loves them with a Godly love. He got there by being charming. He got there by knowing how to crack jokes on the fly. Right now it seems like the community loves him because the script says so. Lets see him earn that love; this actor can do that as long as he's aware that that's the task at hand. Right now he just seems loud and pious. Have you ever talked to a good evangelical preacher? When they aren't preaching they're soft-spoken, friendly, earnest, humorous. Let's see that side of Brady; he should only preach when it's time to preach.
The H. L. Mencken character, the snarky reporter, doesn't seem to be aware that there are other people around when he makes his harsh, witty but mean-spirited comments. What does he want from the people around him? My answer would be that he wants to humble them with his witty insight into what's wrong with them; he wants them to know he's the smartest person in the room and that they're mere chimps next to him. That's not The One Right Answer, but it's one way for him to play off of other people, and it makes his humbling final scene that much more powerful. Right now the actor is just declaiming his lines into the air; he needs to be saying them to people around him, and paying close attention to the effect his words have on those people.
The Prayer meeting is one of the most effective scenes in the production. We really see the Flannery O'Connoresque paganism bubbling up under the cover of Christianity here. I'm still not sure that the fragmentation in the town preacher's relationship with his daughter has been established enough for the shocking development here to seem quite real. The actor playing the preacher is excellent, but right now I'm not sure why he makes the awful choice he makes here. (EDIT: "...Awful chioce he makes here." refers to the awful choice the character makes, not any of the performer's acting choices. The actor in question did a splendid job, plus he's a chum and I don't want him body-slamming me if he reads this.)
No one goes to the theatre to see people who know their lines, cues and blocking. People go to the theatre to see people talking to each other and trying to accomplish something with their lives in the face of great difficulty. Some of the performers here, notably the defense attorney, know that; make sure everyone else knows it too.