October 25th-November 3rd (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Saturday & Sunday at 2:30pm): “And Then There Were None” will be presented on the stage at Tyler Civic Theatre. Ten strangers are summoned to a remote island. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal and a secret that will seal their fate – for each has been marked for murder. As the weather turns and the group is cut off from the mainland, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme. Tyler Civic Theatre is located at 400 Rose Park Dr., Tyler, next to the Tyler Rose Garden Center. For more info call (903)592-0561 or go to tylercivictheatre.com.
Reviewed by John Baggett
It’s spooky season once again and in addition to the ghosts, zombies, and other creatures of the night, Tyler Civic Theatre is providing their own thrills, chills, and a murder (or, murders,) most foul. Strap in for some scary fun with their production of the classic murder mystery, “And Then There Were None.”
Set on the isolated Soldier Island, ten individuals, both as guest and servant, have been summoned to meet there in the mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. & Mrs. Owen. Everyone is brought to the island by boat captain and deliveryman, Narracott (Nemo). Upon arrival, everyone is told that Mr. & Mrs. Owen will not be able to arrive until the next day but to carry on without them. The servants, Thomas and Ethel Rogers (Jack Ragland and Mallory Hallmark), prepare dinner and show the guests to their rooms, as has been instructed.
The guests include Lombard (Cameron Davis), a former soldier and adventurer, retired Judge Wargrave (Roger Pharr), timid doctor Armstrong (David Dickerson), retired General MacArthur (Richard York), religious spinster Emily Brent (Jennifer Rader), arrogant and reckless Marston (Bryan Knous & understudy Dereck Large), former police inspector Blore (Jennifer Diotallevi) and former governess turned secretary, Vera Claythorne (Amanda Nail).
As everyone settles in, Mr. Rogers plays a phonograph as instructed, where a mysterious voice (Ben Michael / Amanda Spangler), informs the guests that they were all responsible for the deaths of someone in their lives. Outraged and horrified, the guests reveal how they were summoned. Things take a turn when Marston appears to choke to death. At first, this is chalked up to an accident. As they are stuck until the morning, everyone goes to bed, but when Mrs. Rogers is found dead, it becomes very clear that someone on the island wants them all dead and is picking them off in the order and fashion of a poem above the mantle. If they want to escape the island, they must do two things – wait and stay alive.
“And Then There Were None” is based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed author Dame Agatha Christie. After the publication of the book, Christie was approached by a playwright who wanted to adapt the story for the stage, only for Christie to deny them the rights and adapt it herself.
This production was directed by Michael Ward, who previously directed “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Les Miserables” for TCT, and assistant director S. Blake Rohus, who recently appeared on stage in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged.” Together, Ward and Rohus assembled an incredibly talented cast that brought to life the tension of the source material and a homage and nod to classic Hollywood (complete with a wink and nod to Turner Classic Movies).
The show uses its minimal set quite well, making it a much more intimate experience like you’re actually in the room with these characters. Using projecting and sound effects in the creation of the “dark and stormy night” that is the setting for a great murder mystery, the show has the type of creepy atmosphere that Christie herself aimed for in every story.
While there are moments of levity and, at times, dark humor, there are also some moments that are quite chilling and could frighten, which is a credit to the direction and the capability of this cast. Plus, it’s the kind of scary fun people look for this time of year.
“And Then There Were None” is an incredibly fun and creepy good time. It features a cast filled with seasoned veterans and newcomers, all of whom are extraordinarily talented and shining examples of the kind of talent that exists in East Texas. If you want a nice little scare, but maybe be able to sleep through the night once it’s over, then this is exactly where you should be looking.
“And Then There Were None” opens on Friday, October 25, and runs through Sunday, November 3, 2019.