Three years ago, Canton law director Joe Martuccio was sitting in the Akron Canton Airport waiting for his wife. To pass the time, he was reading the script of “Twelve Angry Men,” and considering the possibility of staging the play with a cast of local attorneys to celebrate Law Week in early May. Then Ed Begley, Jr. walked by. Begley, the “St. Elsewhere” actor and environmentalist, who was passing through town. Begley, whose father, Ed Begley, Sr., played Juror 10 in the famous 1957 film version of “Twelve Angry Men.” “I thought, ‘Well, this is a sign,’” laughed Martuccio. Since then, the Canton production of “Twelve Angry Men,’ directed by Martuccio and featuring a 13-person cast entirely composed of local attorneys, has become one of the most popular productions staged at the Kathleen Howland Theater. “We’ve sold out nearly every show,” he said. Martuccio has a strong background in local theater — he’s a familiar face at the Canton Players Guild, where he’s appeared in, among others, “A Christmas Carol” for 18 years. “I knew other lawyers who were veteran actors, and I thought, We should do something for Law Week. We should reach out to the community,” he said. Law Week, a vestige of the Eisenhower era, is a national holiday intended to educate the public about the law — and also demonstrate a patriotic commitment to it. “President Eisenhower wanted to counter the May Day parades in Kremlin [in Moscow], where they would have tanks and missiles and just parade their military might,” said Martuccio. “He wanted to show the world that we were a nation of laws, not weapons.” In the decades since, most bar associations host events and plan activities in early May, including Stark County’s. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor is the keynote speaker at the county’s May 4 luncheon, and high-school seniors compete in Moot Court that week as well. The popular (and free) Ask-a-Lawyer 1-800 number will be operative during a few hours, and the week culminates in a naturalization ceremony for newly American citizens at Timken High School. Amid these activities, Martuccio conceived of putting on a courtroom-themed play with other acting lawyers. “I was watching the movie [“Twelve Angry Men”] and I thought, We could do this,” he said. The play, famously simplistic in its props, costumes and setting, was perfect for the Kathleen Howland, an intimate 100-capacity space below Second April Galerie. (In fact, Frank Motz, a special mediator and former prosecutor, helped create the theater. Also an actor, Motz plays Juror #8 in the play, the role occupied by Henry Fonda in the film.) Instead of the movie version, the cast decided to stage the teleplay version aired by CBS in 1954. “We all try to dress in blacks, whites, grays, with yellow pads on the table, for that older look,” said Martuccio. There is one departure, however. Though the play was originally an entirely male cast (“Not very politically correct”), this production includes one woman: Melissa Day, a private attorney and former prosecutor who plays the guard/bailiff and is also the assistant director. “She’s the only woman in the play,” Martuccio said. “It’s a nice ironic twist.” How do these individuals, attorneys and public figures by day, manage to moonlight as actors? “Many of them have been very active in local theater. The funny thing is, though, that since we first did this, all the others have appeared in plays as well,” said Martuccio. “I think it’s a natural extension, because being successful trial law involves preparation and public speaking and being in the moment, and that’s what acting is. I know it’s a cliché, but acting is about being in the moment.” In that moment, Martuccio hopes that lessons about the power of the American justice system are conveyed — “that people labor over the right choice.” If you’re interested, get on it: Not only does the show regularly sell out, it’s also the last year for this particular play. “We think we’d like to try something else now that we’ve established that we’re capable — something else that centers on a trial,” said Martuccio. “Twelve Angry Men” will be held at the Kathleen Howland at Second April Galerie (324 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton; 330-451-0924; secondapril.org) May 13 and 14. Tickets are $10 in advance; show starts at 8.