Her suspicions challenge Christine to look into her own past, and she learns not only that she was adopted, but also that her biological mother was a ruthless serial killer. Near the end of the play, Christine decides to take both Rhoda's life and her own. She gives Rhoda a large quantity of sleeping pills, telling her they are vitamins. Then she shoots herself in the head, killing herself. Rhoda survives because the sound of the gunshot has alerted her neighbors to investigate and they find Rhoda just in time to save her. The basis of the well-known 1956 film.
Rhoda Penmark: Lead; 9-12, to play 8-9. Strong, serious, mature, experienced child actress able to understand and handle this challenging, demanding role. Heavy line load. Sweet, charming, pretty, full of old fashioned graces, loved by her parents, admired by all her elders, on the surface. But, there is something evil in Rhoda, she plays everyone like a game of chess and always gets what she wants...no matter what the cost. A child sociopath.
Christine Penmark: Lead; 30-40. Strong, experienced actress needed. Heavy line load. Rhoda's mother. Pretty, gentle, warm, gracious, dedicated to being a good wife and mother. Gives and receives affection freely. Devastated and shaken to the core when long standing family secrets are revealed and she discovers Rhoda's true character.
Monica Breedlove: Strong Support; 45-65. Strong character actress needed. A widow, owns the apartment building. Imposing, no-nonsense, intelligent, garrulous, humorous, overly friendly, a gossipy know-it-all. Fascinated by Rhoda, showers her with gifts and attention. Christine confides in her and leans on her for support.
Hortense Daigle: Strong Support; 35-45. Strong, experienced character actress needed. Distraught mother of Rhoda's deceased classmate. Often intoxicated to dull her pain. Accuses Rhoda and Christine of hiding facts about her son's death. Slightly lower class than the Penmark family and reminds everyone of it often. She is both envious of and angry with Christine, yet looks to her for comfort as well. NOT a drunk, hysterical stereotype.
Leroy Jessup: Support; 30-45. Janitor of Penmark/Breedlove apartment building/grounds. Sly, embittered, coarse, devious, he feels like he's been victimized by the whole world. Somewhat creepy. Dislikes and admires Rhoda at the same time, there is tension between them, he is on to her. He taunts Rhoda, which leads to his demise.
Richard Bravo: Support; 60-70. Christine's father. Handsome once, somewhat stern and weary now. A highly regarded mystery reporter/writer in his prime. He and his wife adopted Christine under secretive circumstances. Loves his daughter and granddaughter, dreads answering Christine's questions about her origins and heredity. Appears in Act 2 only. Light rehearsal schedule until run-throughs begin.
Reginald Tasker: Support; 45-60. Minor expert in the history of crime, friend of Monica and Emory. Intellectual, a bit full of himself. Enjoys analyzing and discussing details of gruesome true murder and crime stories.
Emory Wages: Support; 40-60. Monica's younger brother. Friendly, witty, conversational, tolerant, stable, calm.
Miss Fern: Light Support; 45-60. Head of the prestigious school Rhoda attends. A handsome, snobbish woman. Actually, a timid, undistinguished old maid. She and her sisters run the school and initiate social mores in the town. She is the first one to suggest to Christine that something is off with Rhoda, she asks that Rhoda leave the school. Appears in Act 1 only. Light rehearsal schedule until run-throughs begin.
Col. Kenneth Penmark: Light Support; 35-45. Rhoda's father/Christine's husband. Good looking Army officer. In love with his wife, completely adores his daughter. He is away for much of the play, never fully grasping the horrors his little girl will bring about. Appears in first scene of the play and crucial last scene of the play.
Henry Daigle: Bit; 40-50. The put upon husband of Hortense. He is also grieving over the loss of his son, but appalled at his wife's method of getting answers. He is embarrassed by her actions. Attend rehearsals for Act 1 only, until run-throughs begin. Has small scene in Act 2.