Agatha Christie murder mystery on HFC stage

Photo courtesy of Henry Ford College Theatre Arts Henry Ford College Theatre presents Agatha Christie’s dark murder mystery “And Then There Were None” April 5 to 15, with Nicholas Maurino (left) of Wyandotte as Anthony Marston, Jesse Mattox of Inkster as Philip Lombard and Stephanie Spuhler of Gibraltar as Vera Claythorne. For tickets, go to theatre.hfcc.edu.

Photo courtesy of Henry Ford College Theatre Arts
Henry Ford College Theatre presents Agatha Christie’s dark murder mystery “And Then There Were None” April 5 to 15, with Nicholas Maurino (left) of Wyandotte as Anthony Marston, Jesse Mattox of Inkster as Philip Lombard and Stephanie Spuhler of Gibraltar as Vera Claythorne. For tickets, go to theatre.hfcc.edu.

 

Untitled-1Imagine being lured to a mysterious island, where, one by one, guests begin to die, accused of murder by their unknown host and the imagination of Agatha Christie, and you have the suspenseful stage play “And Then There Were None.”

The show runs 8 p.m. April 5 to 7 and 12 to 14, and 2 p.m. April 8 and 15 in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center at Henry Ford College, 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn.

Director Chris Bremer said Christie is the queen of mystery and suspense.

“As a director, you always want a strong script from a talented author,” he said. “What more could I ask for?”

Bremer said the dialogue is crisp, concise and one of Christie’s best stories, and he has enjoyed watching his students grow into their roles.

“Seeing them make outstanding strides in their performance, as well as the growth in their personal confidence is extremely rewarding,” Bremer said.

Bremer said the ending of the play is not the same as the novel “Ten Little Indians,” on which the play is based.

“Agatha herself wrote the stage play,” Bremer said. “Many authors allow their adaptations to be done by surrogates, but she was not going to let anyone mess up her masterpiece.”

Jesse Maddox of Inkster, who plays Philip Lombard, said he loves performing in period pieces.

“I wanted to be in this show the moment I heard that it was a British murder mystery set in the 1930s,” Maddox said. “I am familiar with Agatha Christie’s work, so it was an exciting opportunity.”

He said his character is smart, sarcastic, charming and sometimes overconfident.

“I was drawn to this character because of his quick wit, especially when it comes to having a snappy comeback,” Maddox said. “Lombard is constantly using jokes to break the tension, egg on his peers or continue his romantic pursuit of his love interest, Vera Claythorne. He thinks before he speaks, and has a purpose behind every word.”

Maddox said he hopes the audience enjoys the quirky characters, and the tension of not knowing who will be the next victim.

“One by one, they meet their end,” he said. “Everyone loves a good murder mystery.”

He is excited that the show is being performed in a black box setting, which brings the audience right up onto three sides of the stage, using risers and chairs.

“Actors have to find a way to play to everyone in the audience, and it provides a unique challenge when they are that close, because they can, and will, see everything,” Maddox said.

Danny Alnouri of Melvindale is double cast as General MacKenzie with Salem Akra of Dearborn. Alnouri said he has fun depicting his character, a retired World War I general, a widower who walks with a cane and speaks with a Scottish accent.

“I had the most fun depicting him when he starts losing his mind halfway through the play, and hallucinates,” Alnouri said. “The hardest challenge was getting his Scottish accent right, which I practice every day, and listen to actual accents on the Internet.”

He tells people the show is an intense murder mystery.

“I tell them that it’s the story that the movie ‘Clue’ is based on,” Alnouri said. “It keeps you wondering what is going to happen next.”

Other double cast roles include: Mrs. Rogers, played by Julie Barnes of Detroit and Shajuana Fenderson of Dearborn Heights; Emily Brent, played by Detroit residents Kennedy Cooper and Kyra Jolly; Vera Claythorne, played by Stephanie Spuhler of Gibraltar and Natasha Hawkins of Romulus; and Dr. Armstrong, played by Joseph Jabara of Flat Rock and Michael Yax of Detroit.

Also in the cast are Anthony Petrucci of Canton Township as Sir Lawrence Wargrave; Thomas Peck of Garden City as William Blore; John Evans of Lincoln Park as Narracott; Dakota Nuttall of Riverview as Rogers; and Nicholas Maurino of Wyandotte as Anthony Marston.

Tickets are $15, with a $3 discount for seniors, students with valid photo identification and HFC employees. Call 313-845-6475 for more information. To order tickets, go to theatre.hfcc.edu.

HFC HOLDS AUDITIONS FOR ‘FLICK’

Auditions for HFC’s spring play, Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Flick,” will be held 7 p.m. March 27 and 29, in Room 161 of the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center at HFC, 5101 Evergreen in Dearborn. Roles are for three men and one woman, 20 to 30 years old. Anyone may audition. If cast, registration in a 3-credit theatre course is required.

The show runs 8 p.m. June 14 to 16 and 21 to 23, and 2 p.m. June 17 and 24, in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center.

“Flick” is set in one of the last movie houses still running giant film reels on a 35-millimeter projector, doomed to extinction like the surrounding region and the three ushers who work there and haven’t recognized their own obsolescence.

Director Brandon Grantz said those auditioning should memorize a one-minute monologue from a contemporary play. There also will be cold readings from the script. For more information, contact Grantz at bsgrantz@hfcc.com.

DAG’S ‘CUCKOO’S NEST’ EARNS STANDING OVATION

A talented cast, strong direction and polished production values makes the Downriver Actors Guild’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” worthy of its standing ovations.

The play is set in a mental institution in the early 1960s. A jail inmate, McMurphy, hopes for an easier stint in the asylum, only to find himself pitted against the iron will of Nurse Ratched in a power struggle with lasting consequences in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

The final two performances are 7:30 p.m. March 24 and 3 p.m. March 25 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle in Wyandotte.

Director Lucinda Chavez of Allen Park assembled a talented cast, then provided strong directing to bring out the best in the company.

Carolyn Sohoza of Dearborn is superb as Nurse Ratched, the unbending dictator you love to hate, who takes on McMurphy with the controlled fury of a woman unwilling to give an inch. Ratched controls and manipulates the patients with emotional duress, preserving her intense order over them with psychological coercion and emasculation.

Leo McMaster of Rockwood, as Randall P. McMurphy, turns in a tremendous performance, rallying the other patients, and driving them to reclaim their dignity and individuality.

Pete Ziedas of Dearborn, who plays Chief Bromden, also delivers a strong, believable performance.

The entire ensemble contributes to the show’s strength, but Bryan Aue of Taylor, who plays Billy Bibbit; Gary Jenkins of Monroe, who plays Harding; and Rob Eagal of Trenton, who plays Scanlon, are standouts.

Tickets are $13, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.