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A Murder is Announced

a Murder Mystery
by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon

COMPANY : Onstage Atlanta, Inc. [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Onstage Atlanta on Ponce [WEBSITE]
ID# 4801

SHOWING : October 23, 2015 - November 14, 2015



An announcement of murder is in the local paper. It includes the time (tonight) and place (Miss Blacklock's house). Is this all a joke? Neighbors come flooding in to see what will occur, unknowingly becoming witnesses, accomplices, or victims. It is a classic story of mixed motives, concealed identities, a determined Inspector, and Miss Marple on hand to get in his way.

A Murder is Announced
by Agatha Christie, adapted by Leslie Darbon
October 23 - November 14, 2015
Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

Director Scott F. Rousseau
Light/Sound Operator Chris Franken
Lighting Designer Tom Gillespie
Master Carpenter Harley Gould
Props Designer Barbara Hawkins
Costume Designer Nancye Hilley
Sound Designer Charlie Miller
Stage Manager Mary Susan Moore
Set Designer Scott F. Rousseau
Edmund Swettenham Chase Alford
Inspector Craddock J. Michael Carroll
Dora 'Bunny' Bunner Bobbie Elzey
Mrs. Swettenham Lisa Gordon
Patrick Simmons Trey Harrison
Julia Simmons Audrey Hyde
Phillipa Haymes Jessie Kuipers
Letitia Blacklock Nancy Powell
Sergeant Mellors Paul Spadafora
Mitzi Abra Thurmond
Miss Jane Marple Leslie Truman
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A Hit Is Announced
by playgoer
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Agatha Christie plays are wordy and have convoluted plots in which suspicion lands on multiple characters in turn. "A Murder Is Announced" is no exception.

In Onstage Atlanta’s production, Tom Gillespie’s lighting design attempts to underline this "everyone is a suspect" theme by ending most scenes with actors freezing in dimmed lighting, except for a brighter light on the person most recently brought under suspicion. Unfortunately, this requires actors to be precise in their placement onstage, and this wasn’t the case at the early performance I attended. There are also unfortunate shadows cast by chandeliers above the stage, but otherwise the stage is well-lit.

The chandeliers themselves are lovely, as is the rest of the set. Set designer Scott Rousseau and props designer Barbara Hawkins-Scott have gone all out to create a modestly elegant English drawing room populated with period items. The lights and furnishings and artwork work together beautifully to create a vaguely Regency look, with updated elements that make it seem that this room is in a house that may have been in use for centuries. All the details are right, with a bit of wall jutting out to indicate that this room was once two rooms, and a table positioned against this bit of wall in a way that looks just a little odd (which is explained by the script). Nancy Quarles-Hilley’s costumes and a variety of wigs reinforce the period feel.

English accents are called for across the board (with one exception), and the actors accomplish them with various levels of success. At the pinnacle are Nancy Powell, who inhabits her role and her accent with complete comfort, and J. Michael Carroll, whose accent is just about as good. All the others acquit themselves generally well, although Chase Alford’s accent (and first costume) don’t seem to fit him very naturally. The worst accent, however, is the Hungarian accent attempted by Abra Thurmond as a histrionic maid/cook. She slowly slipped into it at the performance I saw, and her histrionic performance, while rooted in the character as written, came across as totally false.

Director Scott Rousseau hasn’t balanced the cast particularly well in terms of the "straight" characters and the "comic" characters. Comedy comes mostly from Lisa Gordon’s Mrs. Swettenham (successfully) and from Abra Thurmond’s Mitzi (unsuccessfully). More comic stylization and quirks could have been applied to most of the supporting cast members. Knowing the capabilities of many of the performers from other shows they’ve been in, I’d say this was either a directorial choice or a directorial failing. It seems like somewhat of a missed opportunity to make the play itself as charming and varied as the set and props.

The play belongs to Nancy Powell as Letitia Blacklock, in whose house the action takes place, and it couldn’t be in more capable hands. Her performance is quite without blemish. (Or is it? ...spoiler alert...) The plot revolves around Letitia, and Ms. Powell’s perfectly balanced portrayal provides a glowing center. I only wish that some of the satellite characters in her orbit could have been played with a dash more splash. Still, for any Agatha Christie fan, "A Murder Is Announced" is a fine example of her theatrical oeuvre. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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