(Posted 1:30 p.m., Feb. 25)
Older Players pull off ambitious production with flare
By Fred Sherwin
Neilson and Randy Bellini form part of the
amazing emsemble cast in the Orleans Older
Players production of Agatha Christie's 'A
Murder Is Announced'. Fred Sherwin/Photo
been four years since Orleans Young Players artistic director
Kathi Langston first came up with the idea to offer theatre
lessons to a more mature clientele.
then the Orleans Older Players have tackled increasingly
more ambitious material. But nothing they've done in the
past compares with the program's latest production of
Agatha Christie's "A Murder Is Announced".
script is 107 pages thick and the play itself is two hours
long with an intermission.
play takes place entirely in the living room of Miss Letitia
Blacklock who is about to become the beneficiary of a
large inheritance from the estate of her former boss,
Randall Goedler. The initial beneficiary if Goedler's
wife Belle, but she is frail and in poor health. If she
dies, Letitia will become a very wealthy woman, but if
she is predeceased by Letitia the estate will go to Pip
and Emma, who are the children of Goedler's estranged
one problem with the play is that these facts don't become
clear to the audience until the end, and even then it's
still rather confusing. But on a positive note, you don't
need to know all the background to enjoy the main plot
which at its centre is a murder mystery.
the opening scene several of the characters are reading
the local newspaper when one of them notices a curious
notice. "A murder is announced and will take place
on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 p.m.
Friends accept this, the only intimation."
Paddocks is the name of Miss Blacklock's home and Tuesday, Nov. 108 coincides with a party she's been planning.
the guests arrive on the date in question, they assume
the notice is part of a game Miss Blacklock has been planning
As the clock strikes 6:30 p.m., the lights go out and
a door swings open, revealing a man with a blinding torch.
a heavily accented voice, the man demands they "Stick
of the guests do so, believing it to be part of the game.
Several shots then ring out in the dark. The door slams
shut, and panic takes hold: in short order, it's discovered
that the fuses are blown, the gunman has been shot, and
Ms. Blacklock's ear is bleeding, apparently from a bullet's
"victim" is identified as Rudi Scherz, a receptionist
at a local spa, who had asked Letitia for money a few
Craddock is called into investigate the apparent homicide
assisted by Miss Jane Marple who just happened to be one
of the guests.
they unravel the mystery along with a few shocking twists.
The best of which are saved for the end.
Murder Is Announced" is a classic Agatha Christie
mystery brought to life by a talented mix of OOPS veterans
lead role of Letitia Blacklock is played by OOPS veteran
Tina Chan. If the script is 107 pages long, Miss Blacklock's
lines appears on 106 of them. In light of the sheer volume
of material Chan had to memorize, she does and incredible
job in delivering her lines without a single pause or
OOPS veterans Biz MacDonald and Randy Beillini do a wonderful
job as well as Miss Marple and Inspector Craddock, while
Céline Nadeau was a delight as Bunny.
husband and wife team of Lyne and David Shackleton are
part of the cast as well. Lyne plays the rather eccentric
Bunch Harmon and Daivid plays the equally eccentric Colonel
thing I love about David Shackleton is his ability to
always stay in character even when he's not involved in
actor whose performance stood out for me was that of AnnMarie
Neilson who plays Miss Blacklock's cook Mitzi, a crazed
German chef who has a propensity to thank herself and
acknowledge the salutation in the same breath.
Nora Torres and Christine Brahams also do an excellent
job t as Julia Simmons and Phillippa Haymes.
then there's Monique Ricketts, the chanteuse, who delivers
the musical interludes, acapella, between each scene.
In my humble opinion, Ms. Ricketts performance is worth
the price of admission alone.
cast also includes Sue Ashton as Patricia Simmons, André
LaCasse as Edmund Swettenham, Jennifer Wainman-McNaught
as Clara Swettenham and Vince McDermott who plays three
characters: a newspaper boy, Rudy Scherz and Sgt. Mellors.
Murder is Announced" is a perfect example of an ensemble
production. All the actors play a pivotal role in the
quality of the final product, and in the case of the OOPS
production, the final product is a play worthy of the
$10 admission price.
still have two more chances to enjoy "A Murder Is
Announced" at 2:30 this afternoon and 7:30 tonight.
The production takes place at the Shenkman Arts Cente
in the cozy confines of the Richcraft Theatre. Tickets
are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Orleans Older Players production of Agatha
Christie's 'A Murder Is Announced' includes
two performances on Thursday, March 1at the
Shenkman Arts Centre. Fred Sherwin/Photo
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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