Gateway Players present
”A Murder Is Announced”
By Kevin T. Baldwin
SOUTHBRIDGE: “A Murder is Announced” by Agatha Christie. presented by Gateway Players. Performances to be held at the Fellowship Hall of Elm Street Congregational Church, 61 Elm Street, Southbridge, MA. Performances: Nov. 15, 16, 22 & 23 at 7:30pm and Nov. 24 at 2:00pm. General admission. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for seniors and youth under 18. Tickets may be reserved by calling Gateway at 508-764-4531. Online credit card ticket sales available at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4423683?fbclid=IwAR1UgB9KKUBX31hPbntq8_HN6YD4lOxvxT4nXyVxdTANSC1rFK5X_o22Ym8
(Note: Online tickets will not be available 24 hours prior to a specific show)
Written by Agatha Christie adapted by Leslie Darbon. Directed by Erin Morin.
Cast Includes: Courtney Gallipeau, Annette Lisi, Angela Clark, Nathan Ferron, Kristen Durham, Linda Bouthillier, Amy Sallis, Krissi Forgues, Ryan Drago, Larry Loring, Billy Bolster
When an ominous declaration is made in a local newspaper indicating the time, place and location of when a murder is to occur, a classic mystery unfolds. But have no fear - the legendary “Miss Marple” is on the scene seeking answers as to why “A Murder is Announced” in the latest Gateway Players production.
The Agatha Christie play, adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon, was originally published in 1950.
Erin Morin is the show’s director and discusses how she finds the material is still as relevant today as it was almost 70 years ago.
“Murder is a part of reality as well as fiction these days. There is even a whole TV Channel dedicated to the investigation of homicides,” Morin says. “There is a big fascination these days with the mystery genre. So, directing a show in which murder occurs was pretty easy (it’s actually my third murder mystery that I am directing).”
Morin confesses one other person who has made it even easier for her as director is the plays own late iconic author, Agatha Christie.
“Her novels and plays have been generating and entertaining audiences for even longer than 70 years,” says Morin who mentions she finds, while Christie’s stories are still very relevant, she did have to adapt some of the content for today’s stage.
“I tried to stick to the original material that was in the script, but a few changes did have to happen in order to comply with building codes, such as no open flames inside or no smoking inside the building,” Morin says.
The cast is comprised of five men and seven women with a lot of characters and suspects with which Miss Marple must contend. But, Morin advised that, thanks to the stage adaptation by Leslie Darbon, “It wasn’t difficult at all.”
“Considering the fact that the book version has many more characters of which aren’t even introduced in the play only 12 characters is pretty slim by Agatha Christie standards,” Morin says. “The play is so well written out that I am hoping to hear gasps from any audience members who are not familiar with the story, considering the fact that there are a few plot twists towards the end.”
Morin admits she has been a fan of Agatha Christie since she was a child and, “To be able to get approved to direct another one of her shows (this is my second Agatha Christie play that I am directing) makes me very happy.”
The title of the play is quite literal as a murder IS announced in a local paper. Today it might well be a post on social media. Morin advised she kept the show rooted in its time period, ensuring that, “whatever the audience views on stage is as authentic, or as authentic looking, as you can be.”
“(The play) doesn’t give a specific year as to when the action takes place. Agatha Christie’s works mainly could have taken place from the 30s to the 50s. However, ironically, I did chose to set the time period as 1950, which was the same year that it was published.”
“Seeing as the show is almost 70 years old, some things were more challenging to overcome then others, such as trying to find the right props, or getting the right costumes,” Morin states, describing some of her challenges as director. “I have been very fortunate, during the last few months, to have an excellent costumer and several wonderful people to help me in achieving those goals.”
Recently, Morin sat down to discuss the show with Soutbridge Community Television.
This is not Morin’s first outing with Gateway Players, having worked with them since 1994 in the teen version of “The Clumsy Custard Horror Show.”
“It was my first play outside of the drama club in school, so it was a completely different experience for me,” Morin says, indicating she returned to Gateway back in 2006 when she appeared in a more “grown up” version of “The Clumsy Custard Horror Show (“grown up” referring to adult performers ages 18 and up).
Since then, she has been involved in several productions. In 2007, Gateway offered a new Director’s workshop to anyone who had been interested in learning that aspect of theater.
“I had always wanted to direct something so I decided to give it a try,” says Morin, who since has directed four full length plays with Gateway including “A Murder Is Announced.”
A few years back, according to Morin, she was also made “chief organizer of concessions.”
“I am in charge of making sure that we have foods and drinks for the audience during intermissions of the show,” Morin says. “So, in the last 13 years or so that I have been a member of Gateway, you can say that I have been heavily involved one way or another. I adore Gateway Players, so I don’t mind taking on all of these responsibilities.”
According to Morin, when Gateway first held auditions back in August, she was “apprehensive’ because it seemed that a number of performers she had worked with in the past were not available to audition. However, she admits, “I don’t think that I could have found a better cast for this show.”
“By some miracle, I managed to get enough people to come and I managed to find the perfect fit for every character,” Morin says, indicating how the cast became “really close, managing to get along well with each other and working well together.”
“I will be sad when it’s all over and I don’t see them twice a week anymore.”
In Morin’s opinion, most critical is that one must take on a multitude of characteristics to best play such an iconic role as that of Miss Marple.
“Miss Marple must be clever, observant, and sharp as a tack, while at the same time be sweet, empathetic, and genuine,” according to Morin who advises that Linda Bouthillier, who plays Marple in “Murder is Announced” is “the best person I could have cast for this role.”
“Linda has been performing in Gateway productions for 40 years, and I have had the privilege of working alongside of her onstage and backstage in both musicals and regular shows,” Morin states. “Linda is a great fit for the role and I am very thankful she auditioned.”
Morin says she hopes audiences come away with a “lingering sense of excitement” after seeing the show.
“I also hope that when they leave that they have enjoyed it, but I think that’s a given for any play that a director takes on” says Morin. “As for something next for them, I just say find another Agatha Christie work to either read or see. That’s what I would do.”