Players Pen – July 18, 2014

Childhood friends were Trixie Belden, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe Hardy and Sherlock Holmes as well as Scooby-Doo and the gang.  The local television station would play matinee movies, and I found myself absorbed in the adventures of The Lone Ranger and Nick and Nora Charles.

What cemented my fondness for a mystery was the time a teacher read aloud “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin to my class.  In high school another teacher distributed a paperback copy of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” with the last few chapters missing.  After reading it we were to write an essay giving our solution. None of us got it.

Soon Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” Wilkie Collins “The Moonstone,” more adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes and Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled detective novels made their way into my eager hands.

I became friends with Tuesday Next, Bess Crawford, Hamish Macbeth, Mr. William Monk, Inspector Ian Rutledge, Maisie Dobbs, Jesse Stone, Brother Cadfael, Detective Superintendent Dalziel, Molly Murphy, Phryne Fisher, Father Brown, Virgil Cole, Everett Hitch and many more.  I enjoy “Foyle’s War,” “Endeavour” and the new BBC adventures of Sherlock.

But the stars of the bookshelf has always been Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple and Tommy and Prudence ‘Tuppence Beresford.   “The Secret Adversary,” “The A.B.C. Murders,” “Nemesis,” “Murder on the Nile,” “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans,” “The Mysterious Mr. Quinn” and more.  I often tease my husband that I accepted his proposal so I would have access to his leather bound collectable editions.

Agatha Christie’s character, Ariadne Oliver, in “The Pale Horse” summed up Christie’s feelings about firearms as a method of murder, “Good old-fashioned rat poison is good enough for me. Or the reliable blunt instrument. NOT firearms if possible. Firearms are so tricky.”

She developed her knowledge of poisons while working with pharmaceuticals at local hospitals during World War I.  Her fascination with poisons proved to be a valuable tool in her writing, and she incorporated it into several of her plots.

Knowing patrons love a good mystery, Artistic Director Greg Vinkler selected some great thrillers for audiences over the years including “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” “Wait Until Dark,” “Panic” and of course Christie’s “Spider’s Web,” “Mousetrap” and “Murder on the Nile.”   But this is the first time the Players has produced “And Then There Were None.”

First published in 1939, Christie adapted her best-selling novel “And Then There Were None” to the stage in 1944.  It is filled with a variety of characters who find themselves marooned on an isolated island.  Then one dark and stormy night, muahahaha … they start to die.

Our full company of actors enjoy bringing life to Christie’s work.  The cast of 11 include Dale Benson, Erica Elam, Sean Fortuanto, Sean Grennan, Joel Hatch, Matt Holzfeind, Carol Kuykendall, Mark Moede, Tim Monsion, Tom Mula and Kristine Thatcher.   They are having a blast playing colorful characters.

Warren Gerds of WFRV TV said in his review:

“Agatha Christie creates types, all the better for you to quickly develop an opinion as you mentally put together a list of suspects as a diabolical plot presents itself. Among others, director Linda Fortunato and her cast of able professionals present us with a care-free, care-less playboy; an adventure/danger-seeking soldier; a conscientious medical doctor; an officious judge; a haughty, heartless snob woman who builds herself a blameless life; a blustery detective; a doddering old general who is waiting to see his deceased wife again; and a secretary who attracts men.”

We are very excited to announce the return of Agatha Christie scholar Christopher Chan.  Christopher will host a pre-show seminar Tuesday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the theater.  The seminar is free, followed by the 8 p.m. performance of “And Then There Were None.”   For more information please contact the Players Box Office at 920-868-3287.

If you enjoy an intriguing murder, join us by the bay for Christies’ “And Then There Were None” before it leaves the stage July 27.    If you like madcap comedy with your mystery you, don’t want to miss Charles Ludlum’s “The Mystery of Irma Vep” which runs July 30 through August 17. We hope to see you by the bay this season at a show, a pre-show seminar or a backstage tour.  For more information visit or phone 920-868-3287.