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June 28, 2006
Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

University Theatre stages summer mystery productions at KUís Murphy Hall

LAWRENCE — University Theatre at the University of Kansas is presenting Kansas Mystery Theatre this summer with productions of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” and the musical murder mystery “Something’s Afoot.”

Performances of the Christie play, originally titled “Ten little Indians,” are at 7:30 p.m. July 7, 8, 18, 20 and 22 and 5 p.m. July 9. “Something’s Afoot,” with book, music and lyrics by James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach and additional music by Ed Linderman, will be staged at 7:30 p.m. July 14, 15, 19 and 21 and 5 p.m. July 16 and 23. All performances are in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall.

John Gronbeck-Tedesco, professor of theatre and film, is directing “And Then There Were None.” John Staniunas, associate professor of theatre and film and artistic director of the University Theatre, is director, co-musical director and choreographer for “Something’s Afoot.” Barbara Puckett, a guest artist from the Kansas City area, is co-musical director and accompanist for “Something’s Afoot.” Del Unruh, professor of theatre and film, is the scenic designer for the summer mysteries. Costumes are designed by Kelly Vogel, a third-year graduate student in the KU scenography program. Mark Reaney, professor of theatre and film, is lighting and sound designer.

Staniunas said he selected the two mysteries because of the theatrical experiences the shows provide.

“I really wanted our students to have the experience of working in rotating repertory, exploring two totally different genres, but with a connection. This is the kind of work they will be doing in summer stock and regional theater and there is real growth gained from playing different roles night after night. They have to learn to distinguish between characters and plays. It is challenging for the actors, but great for their concentration.”

In 1939, Agatha Christie brought new interest and excitement to the mystery novel genre with her publication of “Ten Little Indians.” It quickly became a best seller and was adapted for the stage as “And Then There Were None,” the closing line of the nursery rhyme of which the novel was named.

The classic mystery follows ten strangers who are lured by an unseen host to spend a weekend in a manor house high on a mountaintop on a British island. When they are all gathered, they hear from their host that each one of them has caused the death of an innocent person but has escaped punishment so justice has not been served in their cases. Cut off from the world and fighting rising panic, terror ensues when one person after another is killed and accusations begin to fly wildly about as the remaining guests realize a murderer is in their midst. Tension mounts as the survivors scramble to unmask the killer even as their number is reduced in macabre accordance with the “Ten Little Indians” nursery rhyme displayed in rooms throughout the house.

A musical spoof of the “who-dunnit” mystery genre, “Something’s Afoot” takes a satirical poke at Christie’s murder mysteries as well as at the many musical styles of years past.

Ten people, all stereotypical British characters, are summoned to the isolated English country estate of Lord Dudley Rancour. The unseen host turns up dead within the play’s first five minutes and, in typical fashion, a sudden raging thunderstorm knocks out the bridge and therefore all communication with the outside world. The survivors have to fend for themselves as they try to discover which one of them is the murderer while they are picked off by varied and interesting means, leaving them to panic while bursting out into song every few minutes.

Reserved-seat tickets for the summer mysteries are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and online at the University Theatre Web site. The University Theatre ticket office is open from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before show times.

Tickets for “And Then There Were None” are $12 for the public, $10 for students and $11 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff. Tickets for “Something’s Afoot” are $15 for the public, $10 for students and $14 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff. Both VISA and Mastercard are accepted for phone and online orders.

Members of the cast for the Kansas Mystery Theatre productions are listed below by hometown, class and major, parents’ names, high school and role:

JOHNSON COUNTY
From DeSoto
Jeremy D. Riggs, junior theatre major, son of Larry and Dvonna Riggs, DeSoto High School; William Blore, “And Then There Were None”; Clive the Butler, “Something’s Afoot.”

From Leawood
Courtney Schweitzer, junior theatre major, daughter of Ken and Linda Schweitzer, Blue Valley High School; Miss Emily Brent, “And Then There Were None”; Lettie the Maid, “Something’s Afoot.

From Overland Park
Patrick Lewallen, junior business administration major, son of Jim and Kim Lewallen, Shawnee Mission South High School; Captain Philip Lombard, “And Then There Were None”; Nigel Rancour, “Something’s Afoot.”

FINNEY COUNTY
From Garden City
Alicia Gian, graduate student in theatre, daughter of Michael and Janis Gian, Garden City High School; Dr. Eleanor Armstrong, “And Then There Were None”; Lady Grace Manley-Prowe, “Something’s Afoot.”

LEAVENWORTH COUNTY
From Lansing
Lawrence P. Henderson, senior theatre major, son of Terri Harris, Lansing High School; Thomas Rogers, “And Then There Were None”; Col. Gillweather, “Something’s Afoot.”

SALINE COUNTY
From Salina
Lauren R. Marshall, senior theatre and voice major, daughter of Eric and Barbara Marshall, Salina South High School; Ethel Rogers, “And Then There Were None”; Miss Tweed, “Something’s Afoot.”

IOWA
From Cedar Rapids
Laura Fleming, senior music therapy major, daughter of Mark and Joyce Fleming, John F. Kennedy High School; Vera Claythorne, “And Then There Were None”; Hope Langdon, “Something’s Afoot.”

MAINE
From Falmouth
Carter Royce Waite, junior theatre and film major, son of David and DeDe Waite, Falmouth High School; Sir Lawrence Wargrave, “And Then There Were None”; Dr. Grayburn, “Something’s Afoot.”

MINNESOTA
From Lakeville
Justin Knudsen, senior theatre and English major, son of Ken and Barb Knudsen, Lakeville Senior High School; General John Mackenzie, “And Then There Were None”; Flint the Caretaker, “Something’s Afoot.”

MISSOURI
From Kansas City
Erik LaPointe, sophomore theatre major, son of Michelle LaPointe and Daniel White, Rockhurst High School; Anthony Marston, “And Then There Were None”; Geoffrey, “Something’s Afoot.”

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