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News : Entertainment Jan 2, 2013 - 8:05:19 AM

Curtain Call christens new year with classic Christie

By Curtain Call

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Police inspectors (both standing: Left- Tom Costaggini / Right-Jim Foley) interrogate a member of the Warwick household staff when someone is discovered to be dead in Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest, playing in Curtain Call's Dressing Room Theatre, January 11 through February 3.
A wife is discovered holding a gun near the body of her recently murdered husband. Sounds like an open and shut case, but is she the guilty one? Could she be protecting someone? Of course everyone in the house has a good reason to kill Mr. Warwick, but each has an ironclad alibi as well.

The audience will be the judge when Curtain Call presents Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest, in The Dressing Room Theatre, playing January 11 through February 3.

Set on a foggy night near the sea, this mystery begins with the discovery of the dead man slumped in his accustomed chair. The discovery is made by a stranger coming through the French doors seeking help after his car has run off the road in the rolling mist. A complicated plot is devised to deflect blame from the wife, and a houseful of alternate suspects become involved in the ensuing police investigation. This classic whodunit by England’s mystery queen promises a happy immersion in all the fun of untangling the intrigue for audiences and actors alike.

Christie is one of a select group of people who really need no introduction. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she is the best-selling novelist of all times. Her novels were translated into more than 100 languages, and more than four billion copies have been sold. She is best known for her mysteries, especially those featuring Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, but she also wrote romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott and was a successful playwright. The Mousetrap, which opened in London Nov. 25, 1952, is still in production, giving it the longest run of any play in history. The number of productions of Agatha Christie’s plays done around the world is second only to those of Shakespeare.

A somewhat simple young member of the Warwick family, (Jan, played here by Rob Nichols) sneaks up on Miss Bennett (played by Cathy Cordaro) in Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest, playing in Curtain Call's Dressing Room Theatre, January 11 through February 3.
Directing this production is Stamford resident Joel Fenster. “I've been a fan of Dame Agatha's since I was in the 3rd grade and saw the movie Murder on the Orient Express, which lead to reading that novel followed by reading And Then There Were None,” Fenster said. “Those are probably my all-time favorite Christie pieces with this a close third (tied with The Mousetrap and Evil Under the Sun,” he added.

“This is the third Christie play that Joel has directed for us,” said Lou Ursone, Curtain Call executive director and producer for this production. “Joel has a real passion for the material so he’s a perfect choice for us and I’m thrilled to have him back with us,” Ursone added.

This production marks the second time Fenster has staged this play. “It was the first show I ever directed for the stage a dozen years ago,” he said. “I've learned a lot since then and am proud of the show I did oh so long ago, but I am thankful for the opportunity to do it differently at a theater that I love working at,” Fenster added.

“Joel has a great cast to work with for this production so it has been a terrific rehearsal process,” Ursone said. Featured in this small ensemble cast are, from STAMFORD: Cathy Cordaro, Tom Costaggini, Rob Nichols and Lauren Nicole Sherwood, from NORWALK: Jim Foley, from BETHEL: Nick Kaye, from WESTPORT: Marc Hartog, from WILTON: Rob Hunt, from MOUNT VERNON, NY: Laurel Lettieri

The production team includes, from NORWALK: Peter Barbieri, Jr. – production design, stage management by John Atkin and Will Atkin, and Megan Latte Ormond (STAMFORD) – costume design.

“While The Unexpected Guest isn't one of Dame Agatha's best known plays, I would rank it with her best written plays,” said Fenster. “It's hard for me to really talk about the play without giving away too much as it's a rather complex piece that still has some relevance today,” he added.

At the baronial mansion of The Warwick Family, death is on the menu. One of these ne'er do well, well-to-do folks won't be living for long in Agatha Christie's The Unexpected Guest, playing in Curtain Call's Dressing Room Theatre, January 11 through February 3. See here at rehearsal are: (standing left to right) Rob Nichols, Jim Foley and Cathy Cordaro. Seated: Laurel Lettieri.
“In light of recent tragedies, I feel it is important to remind potential audience members that, as is the case in most murder mysteries, gun shots will be fired,” Ursone said. He noted that the show is free of any hint of sex or physical violence - hard to believe when there are two corpses by the end of the evening. “There is less violence here than in an average 10-minute cartoon, but be warned that there are a couple of gunshots, he added.

The Unexpected Guest will play in The Dressing Room Theatre Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00pm and Sunday afternoons at 2:00pm. Seating in The Dressing Room Theatre is cabaret-style and features a Bring Your Own Everything format. Doors open one hour before show time. Tickets are $29 for adults, $22 for senior citizens and $14.50 for students and children. Thrifty Thursday pricing: All seats $20. Five, seven and ten-ticket FLEX PASSES are also available which offer up to 25% off the aforementioned prices. Tickets are available online at or by calling 203-461-6358.

Following The Unexpected Guest, the New Year continues with Mississippi Rendezvous - an interactive murder mystery; two Musical Monday concert readings of new shows; cabaret performances by Frank Mastrone and Michael Jovovich, plus the following full-scale productions: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Oklahoma, The Dixie Swim Club and Legally Blonde.

Curtain Call is the nonprofit, professionally-run, community-based theatre company in residence at The Sterling Farms Theatre Complex, 1349 Newfield Avenue in Stamford. Year-round productions and educational workshops are presented by and for area residents in The Kweskin Theatre and The Dressing Room Theatre. Curtain Call was voted Fairfield County’s BEST LOCAL THEATRE GROUP 2005 through 2012 in the Annual Readers’ Poll of The Fairfield County Weekly as well as BEST LOCAL THEATRE by Stamford Plus magazine for the past five years and as BEST VENUE by Stamford Magazine readers.. Curtain Call also received The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism for 2011 and in a recent Facebook poll, was noted as the most popular theatre in Connecticut and second most favorite attraction in the state.

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