BY SHANZEH AHMAD | PHOTO BY YASIR ALHUMAIDAN
Edgewood’s Theater Department is putting on a production of Agatha Christie’s, “A Murder is Announced,” for the spring semester.
Jeanne Leep, professor of theater arts and producer of Edgewood theater, is directing the stage adaptation of Christie’s murder mystery novel. Christie is the world’s best-selling fiction author, right along side William Shakespeare. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in 44 foreign languages.
“A Murder is Announced” is a full-length novel, and the play is a two-hour adaptation. The story features one of Christie’s most famous characters, Miss Marple, as she visits her niece and nephew in a nearby town.
It is set in the 1950s, just after World War II when the people in the small town are trying to put together a normal life again. Eventually, there is a murder announced in the newspaper that is said to take place at Miss Letitia Blacklock’s house, and mayhem ensues.
“Miss Marple uses her ability to study human nature and understand social norms to solve the crime,” said Leep. “She’s a wonderful, older lady, who is kind of a busy body and sometimes described as fuzzy.”
Mikayla Mrochek, a theater minor, plays the part of Miss Marple. “She is the signature Agatha Christie character who appears in a lot of her novels,” said Mrochek. “My favorite parts of her character are that she is a very intelligent and sharp woman who is underestimated by some of the other characters because of her age.”
Leep said of Mrochek and the rest of the cast, “We have got a very kind, lovely, and dedicated group of people who are a part of this cast. I couldn’t be more pleased with the work they are doing.”
Patrick Mahoney, a senior majoring in theater performance, is taking part in his 14th show at Edgewood College, playing Patrick Simmons, the young nephew who is described as a jokester who doesn’t take anything seriously. “I see him as Nick Wilde from Zootopia,” said Mahoney. “Everyone in the show kind of has a secret that is going to come out after the murder and mayhem comes about.”
The cast and crew have been working on this production for months now, holding auditions and read-throughs before the winter break. “I don’t think people realize just how much we rehearse,” said Leep. “We rehearse six days a week. It’s really the best of a learning community because we have got so many great people working together on these big productions.”
Besides the murder and mayhem, the play also has ties to some issues that are hot topics in the present day. “We have Miss Marple, who is an older female, who is able to piece together something that the police are unable to do,” said Leep. “The fact that she is an older woman playing a big role is not lost on me. We just had a women’s march in our city, fighting for women’s issues and respect and equality.”
Catherine Amber, a theater minor who plays Letitia Blacklock, expands on the thought. “It’s a murder mystery, but it’s bizarre, and sometimes it’s fun to be a part of a production that is just plain bananas,” said Amber. “I also really like it because two of the main characters are women which is really interesting and not all that common, so it makes for a really rich and dynamic story.”
Another member of the cast, Robyn Haggerty, talked more about the play’s relevance to current events. “I play Mitzy, a Hungarian war refugee, who is the maid and cook,” Haggerty said. “She’s over the top and loud because of her culture, and where she came from is very different from where she is now. Everyone assumes that she is the only one who has secrets because she is a foreigner, so that definitely speaks to things today and how we all have our flaws, but people assume or exaggerate more when it comes to those who are a little different or from another place.”
“A Murder is Announced” will show in the Diane Ballweg Theater in The Stream on Feb. 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., as well as March 3 at 7:30 p.m. and March 4 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for all of the shows are sold out as of now but guests are encouraged to put their names on the wait list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or to simply show up. “If you really want to see a show and it’s sold out, just show up,” said Leep. “We often have some people who end up not being able to come, so there is always an opportunity to get in. I want the Edgewood community to know that they’re openly welcome to see all that we are doing here. We are doing some excellent work here on campus. You don’t have to travel all over the city to see some awesome shows.”