FOUR PLAYLETS ADD UP TO BRITISH FUN IN AGATHA CHRISTIE’S BBC MURDERS
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – — Who knew a murder mystery could be so much fun? Who would have thought a play starting with a serious audience rendition of God Save The Queen could turn into a spree of comic proportions? Who would have thought a murder mystery would even contain memorable music? Well, if it carries the name of Agatha Christie, one can be sure that anything can happen – and does!
That’s what is taking place these days at the Parker Playhouse where impresario Zev Buffman has produced what many writers would call an “historic” re-awakening of hidden stories and putting them all together as the Agatha Christie BBC Murders.
Just how this play evolved is almost as intriguing as the play itself. Buffman – whose name was linked historically with the venerable Coconut Grove Playhouse during the 1950s and with Parker in succeeding years, actually rescued four of mystery writer Christie’s radio plays from oblivion in a London archives. He put four of these playlets together under the name Agatha Christie BBC Murders. Except for a brief tryout period in Clearwater, this version is the Broadway Across America premiere of this solid mystery, ready to lure fans of the world-famous and long-running Mousetrap, Christie’s most famous theatrical offering. The playlets which make up this most enjoyable mystery are Butter is a Lordly Dish, Three Blind Mice (from whence Mousetrap evolved), Personal Call and Yellow Iris. Although they all could stand on their own, the mixture is pure delight for the wide range of mystery/theatre fans
BBC Murders is adapted for the stage and ably directed by Judith Walcutt and David Ossman. The copyrights for all four mysteries are held by Agatha Christie Limited, in London, England
The cast of this play is vintage perfection. Special nods deservedly goes to the entire cast – TV-super-actor Gary Sandy, Lauren Allison, Alex Jorth, Phil Proctor, Tony Brewer, Orson Ossman, Christopher Swan, Amy Walker, Richard Fish, Cassie Post, Lesley Staples, as well as Melinda Peterson as Agatha Christie and two South Florida favorites – Angie Radosh and Elizabeth Dimon – all of whom compose this talented ensemble.
We won’t go into the details of these four murder mysteries. That would only spoil the fun and the intrigue of these playlets covering 140 minutes. However, it is only fitting that we recall the four playlets which, except for the BBC radio broadcasts a generation or so ago, are generally unknown to audiences today.
The BBC Murders historic origin was initially at BBC radio Mystery Series, just before & after World War II. The manuscripts were lost for more than 50 years due to the London Blitz & post war reconstruction.
Mathew Prichard, Grandson of Dame Agatha & the President of the vast Agatha Christie Estate, when contacted by Buffman about staging the lost Murders in the US, received the following response: “I am delighted that Zev’s team is putting together my grandmother’s wonderful BBC Plays which number some of her best works. I am sure that the USA live audience will enjoy them enormously.” –He was right!
Here is how the descriptions are aired on the Internet. And, we quote:
Butter in a Lordly Dish was first performed on the BBC on Tuesday, January 13, 1948 in a strand entitled Mystery Playhouse Presents, The Detection Club. The play title comes from the Bible: Judges, 5:25: “He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish”. “He” refers to Sisera and “she” is Jael. In the Bible Jael kills Sisera by hammering a nail through his head (This work was never published before).
Three Blind Mice was part of a May 30, 1947 evening program in honor of Queen Mary’s Eightieth birthday The BBC approached the queens some months prior and asked for her special favorites. Among a selection of music and variety, she requested a new mystery by Agatha Christie, a writer the queen deeply admired. The world’s longest running play The Mousetrap was based on Three Blind Mice.
Personal Call mixes a strong drink of delicious deception into a haunting story of lies and betrayal. Superstition will take you on a murderous adventure through London train stations and give you a ghostly encounter. Presented on the BBC, Monday, May 31, 1954, the play reuses the character of Inspector Narracott from the 1931 novel The Sittaford Mystery.
Yellow Iris was first presented on the BBC National Program in 1937. The main part of the story takes place in a London Cabaret. The play is unusual in that the production intersperses the action with the live musicians and performances of the cabaret artists who were on the bill at the restaurant where the murder is committed. It introduced the character Belgian Inspector Hercule Poirot,(laughably portrayed by Phil Proctor) later to become one of Christie fans’ favorite detectives. Composer, singer-songwriter Tony & Grammy winning Rupert Holmes wrote several original songs specifically for this play and they are topnotch chords.
The technical aspects of this production are outstanding. Special note should go to Steven B. Weise for sound design as well as Miles Hanson, Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard for carrying out the sound moments which add so much to the fun.
The show runs through Feb. 3. Call 954 764 1441 for tickets.
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida is proud to be part of this production
Thursday, October 11th, the world came to a beautiful little town about an hour and half from where I live in Kentucky. Danville was the site of the Vice Presidential Debate between “Smiling” Vice President Joe Biden and “ Massive H20 Drinker” Congressman Paul Ryan. Earthman was there too. The VP Debate Committee asked me to perform one of my award-winning “Earthman Please Don’t Litter” Concerts in front of the debate hall.
Earthman, a children’s choir and friends brought a little “positive trash talk” to the event. I say that because litter has become a serious problem across America. Scientists are finding cigarettes in fish around here. People forget littering is a choice and it has become a habit which affects the health, economy, and spirit of a community.
Both Paul Ryan and Joe Biden were invited to come on stage with us and tell the children across America that although they disagree on most political issues, they stand together when it comes to people not littering. They were no shows. To bad, we all could use a moment of agreement between our leaders.
Around here in Kentucky, as in most places across the USA, if I took the American flag and trashed it in public, someone would beat the crap out of me. Yet people think nothing of throwing bottles, cans, dirty diapers, paper, cigarette butts, tires, and you name it out onto the American land. The flag is a symbol, the land is our nation. Our founding fathers and mothers, and soldiers from every war fought to give us freedom. I can’t believe they gave their all so we would use that freedom to litter. As I share with kids and adults all over, freedom takes responsibility.
So Thursday, we raised our voices to share our powerful message with the world. Earthman had lots of media coverage on radio, TV and newspaper from both local, national and international sources. Was interviewed live during the very conservative Sean Hannity broadcast. I spoke about Republicans, Democrats, Independents and everyone doing the patriotic thing and never littering. I did not hear whether Sean disagreed with that thought. I even talked to Al Jazeera. Just imagine some terrorist group sitting in a cave looking at the news and seeing an American in an Earth costume talking about protecting the environment. Maybe they will think we are to crazy to attack!
The concert was tremendous and so many folks came by to say thanks for the message. We were the only issue oriented musical act on the main stage all day.
The election is in a few weeks. Yet, we vote each day with our actions in creating the community, nation, and world we want. Perhaps one day, Barack and Mitt, Joe and Paul, with all their wives and children, will go to a park and pick up all the litter and show the nation how beautiful things can be when we work together for the common good. What a patriotic day that would be.
ROCK FOR SOME AGES
Young Sobees, Rockin’ Middle Agers and Hip Seniors alike, were all pumped up at the elegant Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Opening Night of the hit Broadway musical “Rock of Ages”; and Boy, did it Rock!! The pulsating beat of that fab 80’s music filled the room and filled the soul.
Set in the heart of what’s happening on the Sunset Strip, “Rock of Ages” visits the music scene era with a thin story line woven in between the dynamics. Book by Chris D’Arienzo tells the simple love story of the small town girl Sherrie (Shannon Mullen) who comes to where-it’s-at to follow her dream of becoming a star. Meets the guy, Drew (Miami’s own Dominique Scott), and after a few bumps (and grinds) in the road, namely Stacee Jaxx played by Universo Pereira, settle in to the happily-ever-after of Musical Comedy. Drew and Sherrie delivered what was expected of their roles, but Jaxx left a little more to be desired, particularly when his counter-part in the movie, Tom Cruise was so fabulous. Ditto for Alec Baldwin as the Bourbon Room nightclub owner, played on the stage by Matt Ban. The orchestrations by Ethan Popp were playful enough through repetitive tunes of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Poison as long as all that percussion didn’t get too steely.
It’s most pleasurable when everyone is into the action and the music enjoying the Costumes on stage by Gregory Gale and the Set Design by Bedwulf Boritt. Everyone was dressed for the occasion, sporting silver tinsel wigs, headbands, fishnet stockings, leather, tattoos, short, short tulle skirts…and that was the Audience !!!!
Rock of Ages plays until Sunday at theAdrienneArshtCenterfor the Performing Arts. For tickets: Call 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org