“Once a weak person gets really frightened, they get quite savage with terror and they’ve no self-control at all.”
By Zac Franzen
It’s curtains drawn and lights up on the Community Player’s stage in Beatrice, Nebraska. An evening of comedy and mystery unfolds as the production of “A Murder Is Announced”, by Leslie Darbon, comes to life on this small-town stage. However small it may be, there is nothing meager about the talent that takes place in Jamie Ulmer’s production of this play.
It was my first time traveling down to Beatrice Friday, October 12th, to attend a performance at the Community Player’s theatre, and it was definitely worth the drive. This adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel takes place in two drawing-rooms, remodeled into one room, in an early 1940’s Victorian house belonging to Leti Blacklock. As the story progresses, we begin to realize that secrets don’t make friends; forcing us to ask ourselves, do we truly know those who are closest to us?
The play begins with Leti and her dear companions carrying out their daily, mundane routines; however, everyone is about to receive a very big surprise. As the play moves forward, I began to witness the very detailed attributes of each character coming to life in front of me. Rosalie Duffy, who plays the role of Leti, gives a very captivating portrayal of her character: a strong woman figure with confidence and class, maintaining her composure through the many twists and turns of the plot. I was most mesmerized by Rosalie’s ability to build the emotion on stage through the entire production. This emotional build was further complimented by the hilarious performance of Dora Bunner, played by Janet Ensz. Janet’s portrayal of the very energetic and ditzy Dora provided a great comedic relief during each scene of this play, captivating our attention and heightening the suspense. Only adding to this dynamic performance is the Queen of Mystery, Miss Marple, played by Diane Kahnk. The many attributes of Diane’s character force us to look deeper into the events taking place before us, creating the true sense of mystery surrounding the murder. Every actor under Jamie Ulmer’s direction provided their own unique portrayal of their individual characters, thus adding a very personal quality to the performances. At the end of the evening, I was able to ask Director Ulmer what his greatest highlight was while he prepared for this show. Jamie answered “Keying in on acting moments and enriching each actor in every moment along the way.” A strong response that is certain to be seen while attending “A Murder Is Announced”.
The many different technical qualities of “A Murder Is Announced” added to the performance of the cast members. Unlike a major Broadway production or even a performance at your nearby Orpheum Theatre, creating a detailed and integrated set is limited to the pieces you have available to you and a minimal budget for each production. That being said, I felt that the simplicity of the character’s surroundings brought a greater life into the performance and added a sense of cohesion. The makeup and costume changes used throughout were very “fitting” (excuse my pun) and reinforced every characterization that was delivered on the stage. Of all these technical devices, I was most excited about the musical cues that were played. With every note and every minor chord of song, I was able to witness and feel the suspense filling all of us in the audience.
A larger than life performance in this small-town Beatrice theatre brought an evening filled with laughter and mystery. I strongly recommend taking a drive to Community Player’s theatre to experience this very entertaining production for yourselves.
“A Murder Is Announced” shows October 12th – 14th and 19th – 21st, Friday’s and Saturday’s at 7:30 PM and Sunday’s at 2:00 PM. The show then moves to Lincoln Community Playhouse for a three day run October 26th – 28th. Get your tickets now on beatricecommunityplayers.com or by calling the box office at (402) 228-1801.
Do not miss this opportunity to support your local theatre and witness the laughs and suspense as “A Murder Is Announced”.
Zac Franzen began his life in the arts at the age of six years old. His vast experience includes directing, teaching, and countless performances in Plays, Immersion Theatre, Poetry, and Interp; his personal favorite being Musical Theatre. Zac is a licensed judged for the state of Nebraska in both Play Production and Speech, traveling across the state to work with high school students. He has numerous achievements on both the state and national level, and was accepted to attend Juilliard’s Theatre for the Performing Arts. Zac is a very passionate and engaged person while promoting the enriching benefits the arts can give for all lives. If the opportunity to partake in any form of theatre has not presented it self to you, there is no doubt Zac will give you a private performance of your own, anywhere and any time!