Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile” is set to sail at Peninsula Players Theatre for three weeks, Aug. 15 through Sept. 2, 2012.
Cruising under the blazing Egyptian sun, a river steamer makes its way up the Nile in 1947, carrying stylish honeymooners who find themselves immersed in blackmail, bullets and dead bodies. Aboard the steamer is Kay Mostyn, a spoiled, newlywed socialite, and her potentially gold-digging new husband, Simon; the society-minded, self-absorbed Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes and her dutiful niece Christina Gant; a cool, jaded yet charming William Smith; a dubious German doctor; the somewhat shifty clergyman Pennefather; and a crazed stalker Jacqueline de Severac.
Suspicious characters, all hiding secrets, bring motives for wanting one of the passengers dead. Fingers immediate point to a jealous ex fiancée. But everything is not what it seems, and the holidaying passengers are pulled into a voyage filled with deception, treachery and intrigue. Since 1935, Peninsula Players has been entertaining and delighting Door County audiences in Fish Creek, Wisconsin with a variety of comedies, musicals, dramas and thrilling mysteries.
“We like to provide our audiences with a variety of play genres to choose from in a season,” says Artistic Director Greg Vinkler. “We produce classic comedies, court-room dramas, musicals and contemporary pieces of live theater. Mysteries are enjoyed by our audiences, and Christie is the queen of crime, setting her murders in exotic locations with eccentric characters, some of whom are snappy dressers with 1940s style and flare.”
“Murder on the Nile” is under the direction of Kimberly Senior, who directed last season’s production of “A Few Good Men.” She was named the 2012 Best Director in Chicago by Chicago Magazine and will be directing “Disgraced” at Lincoln Center Theater. Her directorial work includes “Want” and “The North Plan” at Steppenwolf; “Waiting for Lefty” at American Blues; and “All My Sons” at TimeLine Theatre. Senior directs a mix of Peninsula Players veterans and newcomers.
“I grew up devouring Agatha Christie novels and eventually my tastes turned more towards suspense than mystery,” Senior says. “I think so much of my theatrical foundation is from the idea of building tension on stage. How do we do it, how do we provide the audience with enough information that they lean forward but not so much that it’s obvious. And the amazing atmosphere and theatrical worlds created from her novels, the characterizations, it really is a fantastic foundation for modern drama.”
Ericka Mac and Brandon Dahlquist are cast as the newlyweds, Kay and Simon Mostyn. Mac recently made her Players’ debut as Velma Kelly in “Chicago.” Her regional credits include “Showboat” at Lyric Opera of Chicago, “Sweet Charity” and “West Side Story” at Drury Lane Oakbrook and “Man of LaMancha” at Theatre at the Center.
Dahlquist makes his Players’ debut. He recently played Carl-Magnus in Writers’ Theatre production of “A Little Night Music.” His regional credits include “12 Angry Men” at Maltz Jupiter Theatre and “Meet Me in St. Louis” at Gateway Playhouse.
Peninsula Players veterans include Tim Monsion as Canon Pennefather, Carmen Roman as Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes, Tom Mula as Dr. Bessner, Karen Janes Woditsch as Jacqueline de Severac, Callie Johnson as Louise, Erin Noel Grennan as Christina Grant, Paul Slade Smith as William Smith and Neil Friedman as the ship’s captain, McNaught.
“Murder on the Nile” is adapted from Christie’s own novel, “Death on the Nile.” Christie wrote the play in 1942, adapting her 1937 novel, but used the working title “Moon on the Nile.” She was working on her play “And Then There Were None” when her friend, actor Francis L. Sullivan encouraged her to create a stage piece for her detective Hercule Poirot. Christie was a bit tired of Poirot at this time and convinced her friend she would write him a part as a church canon in the play. It opened in 1944 in London with the title “Hidden Horizon.”
Prior to performances, Players patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambience of the beer garden and other gardens. Peninsula Players is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers, and employs professional actors for all of its productions.
Peninsula Players performs Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7:30 pm except for a 4 pm matinee September 2. Individual ticket prices to Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile” range from $33 to $39; discount tickets are available for groups of 15 or more. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets, phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920.868.3287 or visit the Website.
Peninsula Players Theatre will present a free public seminar on the mystery writing of Agatha Christie featuring Christie Scholar Christopher Chan at the theatre on Saturday August 18 from 2:30 – 4 pm.
Lawrence University graduate and Agatha Christie Website super-editor, Christopher Chan will speak accompanied by Players actor Erin Noel Grennan, from the cast of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile.” Chan is currently completing his Ph.D. at Marquette University and is a contributing editor for Gilbert Magazine, specializing in book and television reviews, in addition to writing historical and critical essays on Agatha Christie’s work. Grennan is a Players veteran, appearing this year in “The Nerd” and “Murder on the Nile,” which runs through Sept. 2 at Peninsula Players.
This seventh season of Saturday seminars is free to the public, but reservations are suggested.
Peninsula Players Theatre is committed to providing educational programming for the community. The Players has a long history of educational initiatives including an intern program that dates back to the founding days of the Players in the 1930s. The theater continues to offer theater tours and post-show discussions as listed in the program and website. Reservations for free seminars and tours may be made by contacting the box office at 920-868-3287.
Other Fall Seminars will be held in conjunction with “Lombardi” September 15, 22 and 29 and October 6 and 13, with topics to be announced later this season.