A Few Good Men

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“A Few Good Men “

By Aaron Sorkin

A Few Good Men is a play by Aaron Sorkin, first produced on Broadway by David Brown in 1989. Sorkin adapted his work into a screenplay for a 1992 film directed by Rob Reiner, produced by Brown and starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore.

It tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.


Sorkin got the inspiration for the play from a phone conversation with his sister Deborah, who had graduated from Boston University Law School and signed up for a three-year stint with the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She was going to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to defend a group of Marines who came close to killing a fellow Marine in a hazing ordered by a superior officer. Sorkin took that information and wrote much of his story on cocktail napkins while bartending at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.[1]

Several former Navy JAG lawyers have been identified as the source for the character of Lt. Daniel Kaffee. These include Donald Marcari, David Iglesias, Christopher Johnson and Walter Bansley III.[2][3][4] The court martial was Macari’s first big court case.[5]

Once Sorkin completed a draft, his theatrical agent sent it to producer David Brown who wanted the film rights. Sorkin sold Brown the rights, getting Brown to agree to also produce A Few Good Men as a play.[6]


A Few Good Men had its world premiere at the Heritage Repertory Theatre at the University of Virginia’s Department of Drama on September 19, 1989.[7] It then transferred to the Kennedy Center.[6][8]

The original Broadway stage production opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York on November 15, 1989, in a production directed by Don Scardino, designed by Ben Edwards, and with music by John Gromada. It starred Tom Hulce as LTJG Kaffee, Megan Gallagher as LCDR JoAnne Galloway, Stephen Lang as Col Jessep, and Robert Hogan as Capt. Matthew A. Markinson. Replacement actors included Timothy Busfield and Bradley Whitford as Kaffee, Perry King, Michael O’Hare, and Ron Perlman as Jessep, and Pamela Blair as Galloway. Joshua Malina also appeared. It ran for 497 performances.

Other Performances

A national touring company performed through 1992 with Michael O’Keefe as LTJG Kaffee, Alyson Reed as LCDR Galloway, and Paul Winfield as the judge.

In January 1993 A Few Good Men had its premiere in German language at the Volkstheater, Vienna, Austria (translation: Gunther Baumann, director: Erhard Pauer, Daniel Kaffee: Alfons Haider). In the following years this production went on tour and was shown all over Germany, Switzerland and Austria (German title: Eine Frage der Ehre/A Question Of Honor).

A revival of the play starring Rob Lowe in the role of LTJG Kaffee, Suranne Jones as LCDR Galloway and John Barrowman as Capt Ross, opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, in late August 2005 for preview showings followed by a three-month run in early September 2005. The stage show was directed by David Esbjornson.

Jensen Ackles appeared as LTJG Kaffee alongside Lou Diamond Phillips as Col Jessep in a production of the play at the Casa Mañana Theatre, in Fort Worth, Texas, June 5–10, 2007.

It has also been performed in London, Oxford and Portsmouth by amateur groups.

A Hungarian production of the play was performed at Madách Szinház, Budapest. It was directed by Imre Kerényi, starring Sándor Czvetkó, Éva Kerekes and Gábor Koncz.


Opening & Closing Dates
Type & Version
Nov 15, 1989 – Jan 26, 1991
Play / Original
Music Box Theatre, NY, USA
Play / Original
Theatre Royal , London,UK


Awards and Nominations

The Broadway production earned Megan Gallagher a 1990 Theatre World Award and a Best Actor nomination for Tom Hulce at the 44th Tony Awards.[9]

‘New York Opening Cast’
Tom Hulce Lt. j.g. Daniel A. Kaffee

Megan Gallagher Lt. Cmdr. Joanne Galloway

Clark Gregg Lt. Jack Ross

Stephen Lang Lt. Col. Nathan Jessep

Mark Nelson Lt. j.g. Sam Weinberg

Stephen Bradbury Ensemble

Paul Butler Capt. Julius Alexander Randolph

Michael Dolan Pfc. Louden Downey

Jeffrey Dreisbach Ensemble

Edmond Genest Capt. Isaac Whitaker

Michael Genet Ensemble

George Gerdes Ensemble

Robert Hogan Capt. Matthew A. Markinson

Victor Love Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson

Joshua Malina Ensemble

Ted Marcoux Lt. Jonathan James Kendrick

Arnold Molina Pfc. William T. Santiago

Geoffrey Nauffts Cpl. Jeffrey Owen Howard

Ron Ostrow Sentry

Fritz Sperberg Cmdr. Walter Stone

A Few Good Men Returns

Can Broadway audiences “handle the truth”? It looks like they’ll get a chance next season. Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men is aiming to return to Broadway during the 2010-2011 season, producer Ken Davenport told The New York Times. The production, which is looking for a high-profile actor for the leading role, will be directed by David Esbjornson.

“A Few Good Men asks the difficult question of how far we’re willing to let our military go to protect our freedom,” Davenport told the Times. “That’s never been more relevant than today, especially for a play that deals with Guantanamo Bay.”

Emmy-winning scribe Sorkin, celebrated for The West Wing, Sports Night and Charlie Wilson’s War has one other Broadway credit: The Farnsworth Invention in 2007. Sorkin will rework the A Few Good Men for the Broadway revival.

“I’m thrilled that A Few Good Men could be headed back to Broadway,” Sorkin told the Times. “While I’m very proud of the play and the success the original production enjoyed, I wrote it when I was much younger and it’s always felt a little to me like looking at my high school yearbook picture so I’m particularly excited about the idea of being able to go back into rehearsal, do some rewriting and help make this the best production of the play that’s ever been seen.”

Names like James Franco and Justin Timberlake were bandied about as examples of the level of star desired for the leading role of Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer investigating a murder of a Marine by other Marines at Gitmo. The part was originated on Broadway by Tom Hulce in 1989 and played in the 1992 film version by Tom Cruise. No casting for the Broadway revival has been confirmed.

Source Material and Legacy

The play is based on events which took place at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in July 1986, though some details were changed for dramatic purposes. Members of Rifle Security Company, Windward Side, 2nd Platoon believed that one of their number, Pfc. William Alvarado, was a malingerer and had informed about a Marine firing across the border into Cuba.[2] In a retaliatory hazing, or “Code Red”, ten Marines attacked Alvarado, blindfolded him, stuffed a rag in his mouth, beat him and shaved his head.[2] Alvarado was seriously injured, but did not die.[2] Of the ten Marines, seven accepted other than honorable discharges as part of a plea bargain, but three, including David Cox, refused to accept the plea bargain and went to court.[2] Cox was defended by Don Macari; David Iglesias was also a member of the legal team.[3] Cox was found not guilty of aggravated battery, but guilty of the misdemeanor charge of simple assault. He was sentenced to time already served in the brig, and returned to active duty.[2]

Cox was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1989. When he saw the film version of A Few Good Men, he was upset at the liberties taken with the event, most notably that the Marines in the case were dishonorably discharged, and considered suing the filmmakers; however, before he could take any legal action, Cox was mysteriously murdered in 1994.[2]

David Iglesias later became a United States Attorney, and was one of eight U.S. Attorneys dismissed by the George W. Bush administration under controversial circumstances.[3]




1. “A Few Good Men London theatre tickets and information”. ThisIsTheatre.com. l. Retrieved 2007-01-22.

2. Glauber, Bill (April 10, 1994). “Ex-Marine who felt ‘A Few Good Men’ maligned him is mysteriously murdered”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 21, 2010.

3. Gisick, Michael (May 10, 2007). “Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias embraces the media in his quest for vindication”. Albuquerque Tribune. Retrieved September 21, 2010.

4. Johnson, Christopher D.. “Christopher D. Johnson, Esquire“. Retrieved September 21, 2010.

5. Theatre of Dare, North Carolina, “A Few Good Men – The Real Story”, Accessed July 31, 2008

6. Three Days, 15 Seminars, One Great Experience by Valerie Weiss, from imaginenews.com

7. The Internet Broadway Database

8. Gamarekian, Barbara (November 30, 1989). “A Moment of Decision At the Kennedy Center”. The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.

9. IBDB Production Awards