Agatha Christie murder-mystery packs ‘em in


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By Bob Evans

The classic whodunit genre never gets better than from the pen of Dame Agatha Christie when at her best, cranking out murder thriller after murder thriller with celebrated titles like, “Witness for the Prosecution,” “The Mousetrap,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “And Then There Were None,” to name just a few of her more than 100 novels.

Currently, Kansas City Actors Theatre mounts one of her most celebrated stories and keeps the audience astonished from start to surprise ending. “And Then There Were None” begins with her cast of eccentric characters all arriving at a large house on Soldier Island for what is believed to be a simple getaway, hosted by Mr. U. N. Owen. What the guests and domestic staff soon learn is that they share something in common–all have been involved in a murder in their past and never paid for their crime.

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Ten soldier statuettes adorn the mantle in the main room with a strange poem inscribed below. Slowly, one by one, the guests succumb to strange, unforseen deaths as foretold in the inscription. As each guest meets his destiny, another of the statues mysteriously disappears.

As an audience teaser, a copy of the poem that foretells each guest’s fate can be found in the “And Then There Were None” program, but, alas, it won’t help a lot. Christie, known for tricking her reader, disguises her methods and motives even in this poem to distract readers from guessing her murderous intents.

Opening weekend sold out. The Sunday matinee had a line 30 minutes before the house opened. On checking with KCAT, the production could sell out for the entire run, soon. It’s that good and advance ticketing is a must to avoid a sell-out. What a great way to kick off the new season.

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And, the season could not open with a more talented and finely-tuned cast. Director John Rensenhouse secured the perfect cast for each character. Their acting skills astonish. Their primo-understanding of character development stands out. Each actor wears his or her character from the time he or she steps on stage through his or her dastardly demise. Not a single flaw surfaces in this cast.

Along with the cast and their performances, the beautiful set helps the audience understand the social status of the invited guests. The elegant costuming transports the audience to 1940s England, making the period piece rich and elegant. Creative lighting and sound combine to tease the audience, shock them, and move the story along. Props, staging and character movement all play a part in this intricate puzzle. From top to bottom, KCAT’s “And Then There Were None” exudes class, mystery, suspense, thrills, chills, and murder.

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Unless you know the story or cheat and read a synopsis beforehand, no one can guess the twist Christie devises for the shocker-of-an-ending. Even knowing the end, this production will surprise with the quality of acting from beginning to end.

Do not miss this production. Words cannot convey the entertainment value of this classic whodunit. Photos fail to capture the eccentricities of the characters and their interaction. Christie’s masterful writing given to premiere actors and directors cannot fail. The entertainment value exceeds expectations.

The show is family friendly and appropriate for ages 10 and up. Even the younger ones will find intrigue in the rhyme and demise of the guilty. Fun for all ages. Expect it. KCAT delivers.

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Cast: Robert Gibby Brand, Greg Butell, Scott Cordes, Kyle Dyck, Bonnie Griffin, Manon Halliburton, Ellen Kirk, Victor Raider-Wexler, Matt Rapport, Matt Schwander, Peter Zazzali. The production team is: Mark Exline, scenic designer; Katherine Gehrlein, assistant stage manager; Alex Murphy, production stage manager; Sarah M. Oliver costume designer; Paige Prouse, wardrobe, John Rensenhouse, director, Jon Robertson, sound design and composer; Shane Rowse, lighting design; Elizabeth Sampley, production assistant; Kevin Siess, properties design.

For more information and tickets contact the Kansas City Actors Theatre website.

Tags: Kansas City Actors Theatre, City Stage, Union Station, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Theater, “And Then There Were None”


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