The current show at Foothill Theatre is "Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie. It is London in May, 1955, after spending many evenings with a rich old woman, a young man, Leonard Vole, becomes the chief suspect in her murder. Based on the short story by Christie, this character-driven courtroom drama takes the audience through a series of dramatic twists and turns, leaving them to wonder what each character is hiding. Is anyone who they really appear to be? The lingering question, of course, is whether Vole, the accused, is actually guilty or innocent. A surprise witness appears out of nowhere to somehow change the course of the trial. The anxiousness of not knowing what will happen next and the shock that comes at the very end, shows why Agatha Christie is considered the master of suspense. This taut suspense drama is well directed by Bob Dolan who keeps the audience guessing the outcome until the final moments of the show. His talented cast does a topnotch job in this show especially in the explosive cross examination sequences. Bravo on a job well done.
Not wanting to ruin any of the twists and turns in this suspenseful show, I shall describe how some of the performers portray their characters. Handling massive amounts of dialogue in this show is Walter Mantini as Sir Wilfred, the barrister ( defense attorney) who believes in the innocence of Leonard Vole. He commands the stage with his powerful performance especially impressive are his courtroom scenes and the confrontations with Leonard and his wife, Romaine. Statuesque Brooke Evans plays Romaine, the sultry, mysterious German wife who is her husband's only defense. But does she help or hurt his defense when she is on the stand? Brooke does an excellent job as this ice cold woman who keeps the audience guessing what her true motives are. Her German accent is right on the money, too. Playing her younger husband, Leonard Vole, is Jason Marr with an excellent British accent. His matinee idol looks, tall, dark and handsome, are perfect for this role but he also has the acting chops to go with it. Jason plays up the character's likeable side to defend his friendship with the murdered woman, Emily French and he has the audience in the palm of his hand especially when he breaks down in tears during his testimony. His sympathetic portrayal is wonderful and he fits the role perfectly.
Also handling large amount of dialogue is Edwin McDonough, as Mayhew, the solicitor. He brings Leonard to Sir Wilfred as a client and they both discuss the case at great length. Even though the show is a drama, Edwin and Walter have some comic moments together especially when they discuss how exasperating women are. Chip Phillips is dynamic as the prosecutor, Barrister Myers. His cross examination scenes are powerful and his sparring with Walter at times are comical. Dick Decareau is Sir Wilfred's rigid, clerk who runs the office efficiently while Jessica Webb is the pretty secretary, Greta. She livens up the first scene by dancing around the office and later earns many laughs by becoming enraptured with Leonard Vole's handsomeness every time she sees him. Using a Scottish brogue as Emily French's housekeeper, Janet MacKenzie is Ellen Colton. Her testimony on Leonard's seedy behavior is both comic and dramatic, making her a powerful witness. Ellen does a wonderful job as this gruff old woman. Other performers are William Taylor as the judge, Hannah Barth as the stenographer ( she is a hoot when she yells at the witnesses), Ralph Stokes as the Baliff, ( I acted with him in "Man of La Mancha" in Newport, RI in 1985) Andrew Giordano as Inspector Hearne, Edward Thurber as Dr. Wyatt, Evan Fuller as Thomas Clegg, the forensic expert and Lori Garrabrant as a sexy blond. A word of praise to Anthony Phelps for his revolving flats from Sir Wilfred's ornate office to the courtroom. So for an intriguing and wonderfully acted murder mystery/courtroom drama, be sure to catch "Witness for the Prosecution" at Foothills Theatre in Worcester, MA. You'll be glad you made the trip.