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|Written by Wayne Current|
|Friday, 23 October 2009 07:36|
On Tuesday October 20th I was pleased to attend the opening night of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie at the Ottawa Little Theatre. This is my first review of a community theatre performance and let mesay that the professionals can learn something from the OLT's excellent media relations, marketing, and customer service.
Unlike some of the shows I've attended this year, the front of house was well organized and efficient. Receiving my press package was an effortless process. I was also quickly identified by Jessica Resse, Assistant to the Executive, and introduced to the OLT's executive Director Lynn McGuigan and John Muggleton (Director of Marketing). Clearly, the OLT understands that building relationships is crucial to building audiences.
Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None is a delightful mystery. Ten characters are invited to an island resort, where a recorded voice soon accuses them of heinous crimes. It quickly becomes apparent that not only have they been marooned on the island, but that a murderer is amongst them. Relying on a nursery rhyme for inspiration and a creative use of knickknacks to mark the passing of the victims, the murderer plans to kill them all.
While many of the performances were somewhat uneven on opening night, a few actors really stood out. Heather Archibald puts in an incredibly strong performance as the young and vibrant Vera Claythorne. She is delightful to watch, and her commitment to the role is apparent And Then There Were None is a delightful mystery.throughout the show. Chris Cottrell was also very strong as the roguish Philip Lombard. Finally, J. Taylor Morris, playing the arrogant and foppish Anthony Marston, demonstrates that he is an actor with considerable potential. Morris has a great energy, though, for this role, I would encourage him to bring down his exaggerated movements a half-notch; nevertheless, a very impressive debut for Mr. Taylor Morris.
Robin Riddihough has done a great job with the set design, relying on inspiration from Christie's description of the hotel she stayed at while writing the novel the play is adapted from. That's a very nice touch.
The sound design for the show is unfortunately quite intrusive. The sounds of crashing waves and seagulls compete with the actors' voices, while contributing little to the mood. The same is true, though to a lesser degree, of the thunder storm that occurs in the second half of the performance.
In the OLT's production, the audience is invited to guess the murderer during intermission by placing a ballot in a box labeled with the character they suspect. There is a draw at the end of the show for a prize from the murderer's box. This is a superb idea and a lot of fun.
The OLT staff certainly listen to and build relationships with their audience. This is, undoubtedly, why they have no trouble filling seats and have been a landmark in the community for decades. And Then There Were None continues their tradition of top notch community theatre.
And Then There Were None plays at the Ottawa Litte Theatre until Nov. 7. Click here for more information.
Wayne Current is a writer, communications expert, director, and blogger. Check out manyfacesofwayne.wordpress.com for more of his work.
Tags: agatha christie, and then there were none, mystery, ottawa, ottawa little theatre, review, theatre