Churchmice take on ‘And Then There Were None’
Desiree de Kock (Vera Claythorne), Jason Adam (Phillip Lombard), and Dale Adam (Mr. Rogers) rehearse the Churchmice Players production of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunit And Then There Were None. The play opens Nov. 9 at the Bailey. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The Churchmice Players have dialed back the clocks to take on one of the great murder mysteries ever written.
The local theatre troupe is performing Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, set to open at the Bailey Theatre on Nov. 9.
The classic 1939 novel tells the story of the calculated deaths of 10 strangers lured to an island. But then they start mysteriously dying.
Churchmice director and producer Tania Nease said they are doing their best to hold true to the original story.
“We tried to keep it to the 1940s. There’s the whole problem nowadays that if you were invited to a weekend party by someone you met once, the first thing you would do is start Googling them to make sure it wasn’t a scam,” she said. “There’s a lot of things about being cut off from civilization — there’s no telephone, the electricity goes down — and it’s all very integral to the show.”
The book and play has been updated through the years for changing society sensitivities, most notably regarding a poem that is on the wall in each room of the house they are staying in, now called Ten little Soldier Boys.
The poem proves to be prophetic in that it details how each person on the island is going to die, the last line of which is “and then there were none.”
What the guests of the Island must solve is who is behind the murders before their number comes up.
Those who are familiar with the screen play and the novel, however, may be aware that there is an alternate ending to the story written for the play. To add some intrigue to the classic, the Churchmice are going to do both endings on alternating nights.
This will change not just the conclusion, but a couple of characters are even played.
“It’s a little fun twist, and the actors wanted to try to do both endings,” said Nease. “It does change how the characters are through the whole show, so it is a fascinating sort of thing.”
The 11-member cast is made up of local veteran actors. Dale Adam plays the manservant Mr. Rogers, Marla Moshuk plays the cook Mrs. Rogers, Darryl Bleau is a local delivery man named Narracot, Jason Adam is an adventurer name Phillip Lombard, Desiree de Kock plays a secretary named Vera Claythorne, Ken Davy is General MacKenzie, Brad Moshuk is South African millionaire Davis, Mike Hicks is retired judge Justice Wargrave, David Salmon plays the role of the affluent Anthony Marston, Marlene Maertens Poole is a spinster named Emily Brent and Ron Nease plays the part of Dr. Armstrong.
The cast has rehearsal three times a week, but often goes a few weeks without practicing together, as only those still alive in various scenes are brought in.
“As people die, they’re done. So you rehearse a scene, they die and they don’t need to come back for a couple of weeks,” said Nease. “The cast is amazingly dedicated, they’ll show up an hour early to run lines, they’re always asking what ‘can we do to make this better?’ They’re really willing to put in a lot of their time to make this the best show that we can do.”
The set main is a rather simple one of a sitting room in the house, but by having the play in the Bailey Theatre they are able to use the building as a period set piece as well.
“There’s something about doing a classic piece of literature in a classic building,” said Nease.
“The Bailey’s got some options to do some fun little lighting pieces. … One of the doors is actually going down the stairs and out the Bailey door, it makes the whole stage, the Bailey, part of the environment.”
One of the other advantages to using the Bailey is they have gone back to their roots and are offering a dinner before the play. It is something they have not done for a while, is it is something that was a little more difficult to do at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, which has hosted some of their bigger musical productions like Jesus Christ Superstar coming up in February.
“When we were talking about doing just a straight play, we thought we should test to see what it would be like to do dinner theatre at the Bailey again,” said Nease.
“The Lougheed is such a big venue you want to fill it with a big show.”
There will be six evening showings from Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 16-18. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. with balcony seating opening at 8 p.m. The matinees are Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 with the show starting at 2 p.m. and lunch at 12:30 p.m.
Balcony tickets are $25 with the full dinner theatre running $55 each.