Friday and Saturday (November 14th and 15th) at 7:30 p.m. Buckeye Valley High School Thespian Troupe 6950 presents Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced. I had the privilege of sitting in on a practice and talking to several participating in the show to get the inside scoop.
A Murder is Announced is, as you might have guessed, a murder mystery, as are many of Agatha Christie’s novels. If you’ve ever read Christie, you know she’s a clever writer, skilled at keeping you on your toes. If you haven’t read Christie, here’s a great opportunity to have her work performed for you. The show is around two hours long. I asked the cast and crew what age range this would be good for, and the general consensus is that it’s probably not good for small kids. It’s not that there is inappropriate content, but that there are lots of subtleties that kids might struggle to pick up on. It’s a show that I would love to see multiple times, just to understand how every line of dialogue fits into the big picture.
The fact that Agatha Christie was a literary genius goes without saying. Couple a fantastic writer with great actors and you’ve got an engrossing story that you can barely rip your attention from. I was only planning to stay at the practice to watch the first few scenes, but I lost track of time and suddenly I found myself an hour and a half into it. I resolved to stay, but eventually I realized I hadn’t eaten for a long time and my little sister was alone at home, probably wondering where I was. I was grieved to leave, and I would have stayed straight through to the end if I could have. Now I get to wait an entire week in suspense.
I asked several of the actors if it was different performing in a mystery than in another play (for example, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, which BVHS did last fall). Joanna, crew member, said with a laugh, “It stops being mysterious.” Even the cast had to do a lot of unwinding to understand the mystery. “A lot of our practices ended sitting down and talking about why certain characters said certain things,” Pam Lyons, director, says, “The connections weren’t all laid out for us, like in Our Town.”
It’s true, Our Town was very up front about the story. Other plays are more along the lines of, “here it is!” but mysteries present an opportunity to think critically, and to make conjectures.
“Little details matter more,” Wyatt (Inspector Craddock) explains, “Every word gives a piece of the story, so you have to learn your lines word for word. And it’s really easy to mess up the entire show.”
“Like if you drop a name at the wrong time,” Michaela (Mitzi) chimes in. “You could blow the entire story in a matter seconds.”
I also asked several cast members why you should come to the show, and the resounding answer was, “Because you’ll never guess who the murderer is.” The show is full of twists and turns. “It’s fun,” says Nathan (Edmund Swetingham), “It keeps you guessing.”
“It’s not just a mystery,” Michaela explains, “There are funny parts too. Hint, hint: me.”
It’s a great night of entertainment, Mrs. Lyons told me, a good value, and a chance to see the talent. “We’re excited to tell the story,” Sara, crew member states.
The students and adults that have collaborated on this production have worked very, very hard to produce it, and it shows. A Murder Announced is a must see. Shows are Friday, November 14th and Saturday November 15th starting at 7:30pm, and doors open at 7:00pm. You can find ticket prices and additional information here.
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