Second Street Players (SSP) has announced that during the month of February, the company will present A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie at the Riverfront Theatre in downtown Milford. Performance dates will be Fridays, February 12 and 19, Saturdays 13 and 20, and Sundays 14 and 21. Friday and Saturday Curtain times are 8pm and Sunday Curtain time is 3pm.
Director Thom Harris makes his Riverfront Theater Directorial debut with this edge of the seat thriller that will bring audiences wondering who done it. Thom Harris, a retired actor, singer and director of over 30 years in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia area, played the role of Clarence in SSP’s production of It’s A Wonderful Life and Adolfo Pirelli in the SSP’s production of Sweeney Todd. Harris has assembled a cast of characters that takes Agatha Christie’s story to another level.
“I have been blessed by the width and depth of my cast, in their talent, experiences and ages,” said Harris. “I have been fortunate to have worked with almost all of the cast in other productions this past year. So I was familiar with what I thought they could do. I have been overjoyed in how the cast has adapted in their roles to make their on stage interactions throughout the action of the play, look natural to each and every individual character.”
The performance begins with an announcement in the local paper stating the time and place when a murder is to occur in Miss Blacklock’s Victorian house. The victim is not one of the house’s several occupants, but an unexpected and unknown visitor. What follows is a classic Christie puzzle of mixed motives, concealed identities, a second death, a determined Inspector grimly following the twists and turns and Miss Marple on hand to provide the final solution at some risk to herself in a dramatic confrontation just before the final curtain.
Letitia Blacklock, the owner of the Victorian house, will be played by Dana Willens. “With the coaching and direction of Thom Harris I portray a woman with a steely veneer, a capacity for generosity of spirit, and the covert dimension of a calculating soul,” said Willens. “My hope is that this play will entertain audiences, enlighten them somewhat as to human nature and intrigue them as they attempt to figure out ‘who done it’.”
Willens is a retired New York City high school teacher and assistant principal, a national leadership consultant and a veteran of 17 years of theatrical experience, acting and singing for community theaters and private repertory companies, primarily in Arizona. Having portrayed Naomi Farkle, a southern hair stylist in SSP’s performance of Faith County, the seriously intimidating Miss Shields in A Christmas Story and now the imperious, British accented matriarch of Little Paddocks, her home in Chipping Cleghorn in A Murder is Announced, Willens is “thrilled to have been provided opportunities to work and play on stage with Second Street Players.”
Blacklock is joined by two protagonists in the performance, the indomitable Miss Marple, known for her cat-like curiosity and capability to knit garments and unravel mysteries simultaneously, and the invincible Inspector Craddock, known for his wry sense of humor, his professional perseverance in reading people and pursuing both clues and hunches, and his extraordinary ability to handle both Miss Marple and Miss Blacklock without sacrificing either his British spine or his cool.
Miss Marple will be played by Nancy Mikkelsen. “As an avid Agatha Christie fan, I have always felt a kinship with Miss Marple. She is smart and sarcastic, much like myself I am told,” said Mikkelsen. “I love a good mystery just as Miss Marple does. Miss Marple is always listening and trying to put the pieces together. Especially in this show, there are a lot of characters who are being less than truthful and I get to figure it out.”
Mikkelsen is a lifelong performer and her career choice of training and development is a natural outlet for her. She returned to live theater through her children’s interest in it almost 20 years ago when she lived in Allentown, PA. Mikkelsen has performed in almost 100 different shows over the years with a variety of theater companies, playing everyone from young women, old women, men, Shakespeare and Chekov. When she relocated to Lewes, DE last January, she sought out the local theater groups, was cast in the summer production of Faith County at SSP and found it to be a “warm and welcoming group.”
A Murder Is Announced performance dates will be Fridays, February 12 and 19, Saturdays 13 and 20, and Sundays 14 and 21. Friday and Saturday Curtain times are 8pm and Sunday Curtain time is 3pm. All performances will be held at the Riverfront Theater 2 S. Walnut Street, Milford, DE 19963. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006.