The Cary Players will present a community-theater production of And Then There Were None, a nail-biting 1943 stage adaptation based on the 1939 locked-room murder mystery by Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976), on Feb. 3-5 and 9-12 at the newly repurposed 390-seat Cary Arts Center (formerly a school) in the heart of downtown Cary, NC.
“I was cast in a production of this show, under the title Ten Little Indians, 13 years ago,” recalls Cary Players guest director Tina Vance. When Cary Players approached her about directing And Then There Were None, she says, “I liked the idea of doing a murder mystery, and I had some previous experience with this story. Besides, if you’re going to do a mystery you can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie.”
At the start of the play, says Tina Vance, “Eight people, all strangers to each other, are invited to Indian Island, off the English coast. Vera Claythorne (Maegan Mercer-Bourne), a former governess, thinks she has been hired as a secretary; Philip Lombard (Stuart Jonup), an adventurer, and William Blore (Brook North), an ex-detective, think they have been hired to look out for trouble over the weekend; Dr. Armstrong (Tim Wiest) thinks he has been hired to look after the wife of the home’s owner. Emily Brent (Debra Zumbach Grannan), General MacKenzie (Kurt Benrud), Tony Marston (Gus Allen), and Justice Wargrave (Bill LaFrankie) think they are going to visit old friends.
“Once they are ferried to the island by Fred Narracott (Greg Tarsa),” Vance says, “the guests are greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Rogers (Gary Watts and Candice Davies), the butler and cook, who report that their hosts, Mr. & Mrs. Owen, will not arrive until the next day.”
Vance adds, “That evening, as all the guests gather in the drawing room, they hear a recorded voice accusing each of them of a specific murder, committed in the past for which they were never charged. They compare notes and realize that none of them, including the servants, actually know ‘Mr. or Mrs. Owen,’ which suggests that they have been brought to the island under false pretenses.
“As they discuss what to do,” says Tina Vance, “one of the guests chokes on poisoned whiskey and dies. Another guest happens to notice the similarity between this death and the first verse of a nursery rhyme, ‘Ten Little Soldiers,’ that hangs over the fireplace in the drawing room. In addition, the mantle also has a collection of soldier statues, one of which now lies broken on the floor following the first death.
“And so it begins, and it quickly becomes clear that the unknown murderer (whoever he or she may be) intends to kill everyone according to the nursery rhyme. One by one the guests keep dying until … well we’re not going to tell you who-done-it,” Vance chuckles, “you’ll just have to see the show and find out for yourself!”
In addition to director Tina Vance, the Cary Players’ creative team for And then there were none includes producers Debra Grannan and Joanna Herath, technical director Bob Grannan, set designer Glenn Vance, lighting designer Bill Morrison, costume designer David Serxner, properties manager Terry Townsend, projection and sound designer Mark Hanna, fight choreographer Steve Whetzel, and stage Manager Deanna Wilson. The production also features original music by Kevin MacLeod and Karl Moraski.
Director Tina Vance says the show’s unit set is a “drawing room, complete with a wall of windows and 12-foot French doors at the back. The room is appointed with a few antique furnishings and vintage props,” Vance points out.
She adds, “A storm rolls in during the story, with lightning and a power failure which leads to one scene by candlelight…. There will [also] be the sound of gun shots, simulated smoking, and flashing lights during the performances.”
Tina Vance says, “Set designer Glenn Vance was impressed by the way original architectural elements from the 1938-39 construction of the former Cary High School were incorporated into the renovation that took the building from a school to the new Cary Arts Center. He was intrigued by idea of continuing with the same integration.
“Since the play is set in roughly the same time period, although in England rather than the U.S.,” says Tina Vance, “we worked to tie the design of the drawing room on Soldier Island into the architecture of the Cary Arts Center. Although not exact duplications of the building architecture, the set is designed to mimic the style, using wood paneled walls painted to match the proscenium, fluted door and window trim, and lunette windows, all on a grand scale.”
Vance says, “Our goal was to design a grand setting for this story, which is one the classic murder mysteries of all time. I hope we’ve succeeded.
“The true challenge [in staging a community-theater production of and then there were none] comes with the actual venue,” claims director Tina Vance. “The popular Cary Arts Center stage and construction lab are booked most nights for classes and touring company performances.
“Cary Players did not want to compromise on the quality of the sets they used for the productions on this impressive stage, so we rented a scene shop (a small warehouse in Cary),” she explains. “The entire set has been constructed and painted offsite and will arrive for assembly the Sunday before the production.”
“It’s times like this,” says technical director Bob Grannan, “that you really appreciate how essential volunteers are to community theater!”
The Cary Players present AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 and 4, 3 p.m. Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9-11, and 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary, North Carolina 27511.
TICKETS: $18 ($16 students and seniors 55), except $15 for groups of 20 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 800-514-3849 or http://event.etix.com/.
GROUP RATES (20+ tickets): Group tickets must be purchased in person at the Cary Arts Center. SHOW: http://www.caryplayers.org/shows/and-then-there-were-none/.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 3 p.m. Feb. 12th performance.
The Novel: http://agathachristie.com/story-explorer/stories/and-then-there-were-none/ (official web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None (Wikipedia).
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
The Novelist/Playwright: http://agathachristie.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie (Wikipedia).
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