Peninsula Players Theatre presents an audio reading of two “Adventures of the Thin Man” radio episodes on Monday, April 5, at 7 p.m. CDT as part of The Play’s the Thing, the theater’s winter play reading series. “The Thin Man” series, written by Sam Spade’s creator Dashiell Hammett, follows the sophisticated duo of ex-detective Nick Charles and his glamorous, wealthy wife, Nora. Their escapades to unravel mysteries and solve murders wherever they may lie are all done with snappy banter, shaken cocktails and gumshoe-esque sleuthing. Admission to the audio reading is limited to 300 households. A virtual pass is available at www.onthestage.com/peninsula-players-theatre. Listening is free; donations are welcomed.
Nick and Nora Charles were the last fictional creations of the detective-author, Dashiell Hammett. Hammett and his partner, playwright Lillian Hellman, were themselves the inspiration for the stylish and risqué couple. Hammett not only wrote about detectives, he was one. He joined the Baltimore branch of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency when he was 19 years old. “The bad cuts on his leg and indentations in his head (are) from being scrappy with criminals,” Hellman once wrote. He once confessed to knowing a man who stole a ferris wheel.
By 1922, he published two short stories, “The Parthian Shot” and “The Road Home.” His ground-breaking character, The Continental Op, was introduced in his third short story, “Arson Plus.” He created the world-weary private eye, The Fat Man, and wrote scripts for its radio show. Hammett’s novels include “Red Harvest,” “The Dain Curse,” The Glass Key,” and “The Maltese Falcon.” He created the street-wise, hard-boiled detective Sam Spade, and used a harsh realistic edge in his novels and his own experience as a detective. Hammett inspired such writers as Raymond Chandler to fashion Phillip Marlow and Ross Macdonald to create private eye Lew Archer.
“The Thin Man,” Hammett’s last novel, was published in 1934, the same year as its film adaptation. “The Thin Man” introduced a different take on crime-solving – a sophisticated duo who enjoy their cocktails and are infused with a spirit for romantic adventures. Nick Charles is a retired private eye who revels in the life of leisure his wealthy and beautiful wife Nora provides. They constantly become embroiled in criminal escapades through family, friends and characters from Nick’s detective past. Nick and Nora’s witty banter and daring adventures inspired such television shows as “McMillian and Wife,” “Remington Steele” and “Moonlighting.”
Film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy were such a success on screen as the high society sleuths that Powell earned an Academy Award nomination. Loy was dubbed “Queen of Hollywood” in a national poll of moviegoers for ruling the box office and the big screen. Powell and Loy filmed five sequels to “The Thin Man” between 1936 and 1947 and inspired a radio program, “Adventures of the Thin Man,” which debuted in 1942.
The Play’s the Thing will feature two episodes from the radio program for its audio play reading on Monday, April 5. “The Case of the Goofy Groom” has Nick and Nora wondering if a beautiful bride has something to do with threats made towards the groom and in “The Valentine’s Day Episode,” Nick’s nemesis, crime-boss Bill Carroll, breaks out of jail and pays him an unexpected visit.
Nick and Nora will be portrayed by Ric Walker and Linda Fortunato, the Peninsula Players Associate Artistic Director, both of whom were in last month’s production of “Bell, Book and Candle.” They are joined by their castmates from “Bell, Book and Candle” including Allison Selby Cook, who portrayed Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue;” Mike Jimerson (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Trifles”); and Greg Vinkler, the Peninsula Players’ artistic director. The audio reading also features the talents of foley artist Ele Matelen (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Trifles”).
The talented team is under the direction of Kevin Christopher Fox, who directed the recent audio plays “Bell, Book and Candle,” “The Dust of Death,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Trifles.” The cast’s artistic credits as performers are extensive and include many regional theaters, television, voice-over, film work, improvisation, directing and writing credits.
“We are delighted patrons are enjoying this radio-style play reading collaboration,” said Managing Director Brian Kelsey. “We look forward to continuing to bring programming directly to homes while the pandemic continues and while we explore re-opening options for our 2021 season. We are thrilled that ‘The Thin Man’ will be available to 300 households throughout the country.”
“The Thin Man” is part of Peninsula Players Theatre’s winter program, The Play’s the Thing. It is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as generous grants from Door County Medical Center, Friends of Door County Libraries, The Shubert Foundation and operating funds of Peninsula Players Theatre.
Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre. The Play’s the Thing is part of the Players’ continuing winter outreach programming, presenting professional play readings for the public. Donations may be made by calling the Box Office on weekdays, visiting www.peninsulaplayers.com, or by mail to 4351 Peninsula Players Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212.