Unfortunately, especially in this deadly flu season, several audience members coughed, sneezed, sniffled, and made other illness-related interruptions throughout the Thursday-night performance of Stageworks Theatre’s community-theater production of Agatha Christie’s classic play, And Then There Were None, at the Holly Springs Cultural Center. Otherwise, this clever and delightful play was sprightly, lively, and enjoyable. The wonderful Christie style, which keeps the audience constantly guessing “whodunnit,” even if you know the story, is at the fore here.
After being told by a mysterious hidden voice that each one of them is guilty of the death of someone from their past, 10 strangers on a deserted island off the coast of Devon are murdered, one by one. But it’s all great fun.
Set designer Andy Portalance has created a typically charming parlor in a resort cottage, with lacy curtained French doors, an entrance platform, hanging flower pots and comfy, relaxing furniture.
Mia Peters’ directed the play from the perspective that “Theatre is about community, creating an environment for people to experience different people’s stories together in an entertaining and enjoyable way.” And we were indeed enjoyably entertained. Our only criticism is that scene changes took much too long, although that may improve as the show settles in.
No credit is given to the costumer who was responsible for excellent clothing, reflecting some of the aesthetics of the characters themselves.
Jason Christ is excellent as Thomas Rogers, the butler who was recently hired to wait upon the weekend guests. His mother Ethel Rogers (played by Karen Morgan Williams) was also part of the temporary job.
Noelle Barnard Azarelo, who portrays Vera Claythorne, makes this secretary a passionate, careful women who makes us wonder about her dark secret. And Doug Simpson, as William Blore, is a slippery character who carries on (for a while) under an assumed name and personage. Simpson handles the part deftly, as his real reason for being there is made manifest.
The straight-laced old biddy, Emily Brent, is played to perfection by Laura Arwood. And Gus Allen is old and creaky and stiffly legalistic as former Judge Sir Lawrence Wargrave. The judgmental old judge is prim and proper, and always has to have the last word in any discussion.
Carla Reck) plays Dr. Armstrong, who has a quixotic personality. Armstrong is learned and authoritative, and given to emotional outbursts that make us wonder about her real story.
Old General McKenzie, given to drifting into the past, is well played by Craig Ashby, who spent 42 years in Scotland preparing his dialect. And Phillip Lombard, a former military man himself, and an easy suspect in this plot, is played by Michael Parker, with a take-charge attitude, supported by an air of complete confidence.
Anthony Marston, a bit of a smug playboy type with a fast sport car and a naive sense of worldliness, is played by Christopher McBennett. And Blake VanWeychen rounds out the talented cast as Fred Naracott, the captain of the boat that brings the 10 strangers out to the island.
And Then There Were None is a fine evening’s entertainment. It’s too bad it only runs for this one weekend.
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 26th Raleigh, NC Triangle Review review by Melanie Simmons: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2018/01/agatha-christies-and-then-there-were-none-keeps-the-audience-guessing-right-up-until-the-end/.)
Stageworks Theatre presents Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Holly Springs Cultural Center, 300 W Ballentine St, Holly Springs, North Carolina 27540.
TICKETS: These shows are completely SOLD OUT.
BOX OFFICE: 919-567-4000 or https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/3443.
INFORMATION: 919-567-4000 or StageworksTheatreNC@gmail.com.
And Then There Were None (1939 mystery novel): http://www.agathachristie.com/christies-work/stories/and-then-there-were-none/193 (official web page) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None (Wikipedia).
And Then There Were None, a.k.a. Ten Little Indians (1944 Broadway mystery): http://www.samuelfrench.com/p/914/and-then-there-were-none (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/ten-little-indians-8558 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None_%28play%29/a> (Wikipedia). The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Agatha Christie (English crime novelist and playwright, 1890-1976): http://www.agathachristie.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/agatha-christie-3916 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002005/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agatha_Christie (Wikipedia).
Mia Peters (director): https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.m.peters.7 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.