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University Theatre at NC State A Murder is Announced Agatha ChristieUniversity Theatre at N.C. State will open its three-play TheatreFest 2010 with A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, Leslie Darbon’s 1977 stage adaptation of a nail-biting 1950 suspense novel by Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976), on May 27-30 and June 2, 5, 9, and 11 in the new Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall. Common Ground Theatre managing director Rachel Klem will direct A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, which will be performed in rotating repertory with MURDER ON THE NILE (June 3-4, 6, 10, 12-13, 16, and 19), written by Dame Agatha and directed by University Theatre director John C. McIlwee, and SPIDER’S WEB (June 17-18, 20, and 23-27), also written by Christie and directed by University Theatre assistant director Allison Bergman.

“I really love the suspense in [A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED],” confesses Rachel Klem. “Like all Agatha Christie plays, the audience is led down the path slowly and gently, allowing them time to solve the mystery on their own, if they can, and then throwing a couple of twists in at the end to separate the amateurs form the pros.”

Klem adds, “At the start of the show, we meet Miss Leticia Blacklock (Marilee Spell) and her best friend Dora Bunner (Lynda Clark). They are quite surprised to find a personal advert announcing ‘a murder will take place at 6:30 that evening’ in their home. Many neighbors show up out of curiosity, thinking the event is a game.

“When a young Swiss national is killed,” says Rachel Klem, “Miss Marple (Joanne Dickinson) and a local detective, Inspector Craddock (David Klionsky), must follow the clues to find whodunit.”

In addition to director Rachel Klem, the University Theatre creative team for A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED includes technical director David Jensen, set designer Nick Purdy, lighting and sound designer Paul Pharris, costume designers John McIlwee and Jennifer Dasher, properties manager Jayme Mellema, and stage manager Randy Rehfuss.

The mystery unfolds on a “Drawing room set in time of Agatha Christie –October 1950,” notes director Rachel Klem.

She adds, “The biggest challenge [in staging this show] is providing the clues to the audience in a fun and clear way, so they are caught up in the story and character, and can still enjoy the challenge of solving the crime themselves. This particular story has lots of people mentioned that we never meet, so it is especially important for the actors to make these people real for the audience.

“There are special effects in the staging that challenged our design team,’ Klem explains, “not to mention that since this is a rotating rep, the designers had to put together a set that could be used for all three shows.”

University Theatre at N.C. State presents A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, as part of TheatreFest 2010, at 8 p.m. May 27-29, 3 p.m. May 30, and 8 p.m. June 2, 5, 9, and 11 in the Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall, on E. Dunn Ave. at Jensen Dr., in Raleigh, North Carolina 27607. TICKETS: $15 ($13 students and seniors and $5 NCSU students).

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