Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Murder Is Announced"

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note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players fourth show of their 107 season is "A Murder is Announced" by Agatha Christie adapted by Leslie Darbon for the stage. In this show an advertisement appears in the personal column in the local newspaper, announcing a murder will take place at the home of Miss Blacklock's who is one of Miss Marple's acquaintances. It turns out to not be a prank, and when two murders take place, Miss Marple and a detective have to work their way through a house full of suspects. Director Vince Petronio casts these roles beautifully, garnering splendid and well nuanced performances from them. He gives them many comic moments to liven things up as well as cliff hanger music to enhance the melodramatic endings to murderous moments.

Vince infuses his cast with high energy and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats trying to figure out who the murderer really is. The show is full of many twists and turns as well as red herrings, hidden identities and clues the audience must figure out. Vince sets the show in Vermont in 1957. The gorgeous set is by Dan Clement while the 1950's costumes are by Jill Eddy. Not wanting to give away too many secrets of this mystery, I'll describe the performers and their characters. Carol Varden tackles the role of Miss Marple, as she methodically solves this crime. She gives a strong portrayal of this charming, eccentric character. Becky Minard shines as her friend, Miss Blacklock who someone wants to be dead. She is onstage almost the whole show and delivers a well balanced and nuanced performance as this complex character who has many mood swings during the show. Her wacky humorous friend is splendidly played by Amanda O'Bannon who makes her stage debut in the role of Bunny. She is dotty woman who is reminiscent of Rose on "The Golden Girls'' as she calls other characters by different names and tells wild and crazy stories. What a way to make your stage debut!

The gruff police inspector is fantastically played by Andrew Stigler who commands the stage in these interrogation scenes. His strong authoritarian voice and manner are perfect for Inspector Craddock. Miss Blacklock's mysterious distant relatives are well played by Michael Puppi and Jennifer Michaels while Kristin McGuirk plays, a young mother with a hidden past. Throw in a busybody neighbor, Mrs. Swettenham and her writer son played by Angie Margiotta and Michael Pugliese Another scene stealer is a hot tempered Russian maid played excellently by Paula Faber who tells many a tall story. She steals many scenes with her comic antics. Another comic presence is Tom Lavalle as the laughing cop. So for a murder mystery story that audiences can savor and enjoy sprinkled with many laughs along the way, be sure to catch "A Murder is Announced" at Players. To become a member of this theatre club, call Bill Applegate at 273-0590. Next season The Players will be handicapped accessible.

A Murder is Announced (4 to 13 March)
The Players, Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit St, Providence, RI
1(401)273-0590 or

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide