WESTERLY — A favorite mystery featuring Miss Marple as the solver — and a staple of Agatha Christie’s crime fiction — is the next production at the Granite Theatre.
“A Murder is Announced” by Leslie Darbon, adapted from Christie’s 50th book, opens Friday for a monthlong run with John Cilino in the director’s chair.
“It’s a good show with a strong cast,” said Cilino. “I really like this one … this play … it’s interesting and it’s tricky. I pick up a new clue each time I see it.”
Published in 1950, the story opens with the villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.”
With their curiousity piqued, villagers assemble thinking it's a “murder game.”
Is it a childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Miss Blacklock's Victorian-era house at the appointed time when, without warning … the lights go out.
What follows is a classic Christie puzzle of mixed motives, concealed identities, a second death, a determined inspector grimly following the twists and turns, and Miss Marple on hand to provide the final solution at some risk to herself in a dramatic confrontation just before the final curtain.
“It takes a while to put all the clues together,” said Cilino. “But Miss Marple comes in and solves the crime.”
Granite regular Michelle Mania will play the role of Miss Blacklock; Diana Blanda (audiences will remember, with fondness, Blanda’s portrayal of Florence Foster Jenkins in last season’s “Souvenir”) will play Dora Bunner; Veronica Strickland is Mitzi; Danielle Conti is Phillipa Hayes; Stephanie Rodger is Miss Simmons; Paul DiSilvestro is Patrick Simmons; Judy George is Mrs. Sweetenham; Heather Carey, Miss Marple; Tom Steenburg, Edmund Sweetenham and Zack Tunquist will play two roles — Rudi Shertz and Sergeant Mellors.
Michael Jepson — twin brother of the Granite’s artistic director, David Jepson — will return to Westerly to play the role of Inspector Craddock. (Local theater-lovers will remember Michael in the role of Hercule Poirot two years ago in Christie's marvelous "Black Coffee," and as Dr. Einstein and in last season’s "Arsenic and Old Lace.”)
Next on the schedule is the delightful romantic comedy “Bell, Book and Candle” by John Van Druten, which opens Oct. 12. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 401-596-2341 or online at at granitetheatre.com.