‘Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion’ opens March 24

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainemnt -

CHURCH HILL — “Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion,” di­rected by Christo­pher Wal­lace, is a grip­ping duel be­tween two le­gal gi­ants ar­gu­ing a cap­i­tal mur­der case in foggy postWorld War II Lon­don. The play, which was gen­er­ously spon­sored by Foam Works, LLC, opens at Church Hill Theatre on March 24 and runs for three week­ends. Based on a 1925 short story she later adapted for the stage, Agatha Christie’s “Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion” has been de­light­ing and per­plex­ing au­di­ences for al­most a cen­tury. Like all clas­sics, this play re­mains fresh be­cause it’s based on hu­man emo­tions — and an un­healthy dose of Bi­b­li­cal sin.

Sim­ple man Leonard Vole has been ac­cused of mur­der, but there are count­less ques­tions with­out an­swers for this cap­i­tal charge. What re­la­tion­ship ex­isted be­tween at­trac­tive young Vole and his much older pa­tron, Emily French? Leonard is de­voted to his Ger­man-born wife Ro­maine, but is she an ideal char­ac­ter wit­ness? Do the lead bar­ris­ters live up to their rep­u­ta­tions for bril­liance? Much de­pends on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence: frag­ments of glass, a blood­stained jacket, and the ex­act tim­ing of events. Christie pro­vides both red her­rings and le­git­i­mate clues, so au­di­ences need to pay care­ful at­ten­tion as they reach their own con­clu­sions about Vole’s guilt or in­no­cence. This drama would be an ex­cel­lent in­tro­duc­tion to live the­ater for mid­dle school­ers and teens, but smaller chil­dren might have trou­ble fol­low­ing the court­room repar­tee.

The stage ver­sion of “Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion,” which opened in Lon­don in 1953, was fol­lowed by the hit 1957 film star­ring Ty­rone Power, Mar­lene Di­et­rich and Charles Laughton. A sub­se­quent re­make fea­tured Ed­ward G. Robin­son, Beau Bridges, Diana Rigg and Sir Ralph Richardson. A TV minis­eries came out in 2016, and Ben Af­fleck is work­ing with the Agatha Christie es­tate on a new film ver­sion.

Christo­pher Wal­lace has as­sem­bled a large cast that is sure to keep Del­marva au­di­ences on the edge of their seats. Rob­bie Spray plays the mur­der sus­pect, Leonard Vole; Nina Sharp plays his wife, Ro­maine. John Feld­man and John Haas play Vole’s le­gal team of Sir Wil­fred Roberts and Mr. May­hew. Howard Mesick plays the head of the pros­e­cu­tion team, Mr. My­ers, Q.C. Oth­ers in the cast, play­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, lawyers, court of­fi­cials and var­i­ous wit­nesses in­clude: Chris­tine Kin­lock, Pat Pat­ter­son, Sheila Aus­trian, John Tere­bey, Jim John­son, Al­lan Price, Jane Tere­bey, Tina John­son, Shane Mo­ran, Perry Stut­man, Lynn McLain, Steve Haz­zard, She­lagh Grasso and Ken­dall Davis.

The di­rec­tor’s back-stage pro­duc­tion team in­cludes Stage Man­ager Michelle Christo­pher, Pro­ducer Liz Clarke, Set De­sign­ers/ Builders Michael White­hill and Brian Draper, Cos­tume De­signer Juanita Wiec­zoreck, Light De­signer Nic Carter and Sound De­signer Pa­trick Fee.

“Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion” runs from March 24 to April 9 with per­for­mances at 8 p.m. on Fri­days and Satur­days and 2 p.m. on Sun­days. Tick­ets are $20 for adults and $10 for stu­dents, with spe­cial prices for groups of 10 or more. CHT of­fers spe­cial two for the price of one tick­ets on open­ing night, Fri­day, March 24, at the box of­fice or to those who re­serve by phone. Reser­va­tions can be made by call­ing the CHT of­fice at 410-556-6003 or on­line at www.church­hillthe­atre.org

From left, front row, Dianne Cimba, Mon­ica Rosanova, Charles Thai, An­toinette Smith, He­len Noble, Jodi Bortz, Amanda Carter, Carla Ger­ber, Brenda Lyons. Sec­ond row, Ann Bald­win, Kathy Bly­man, Marge Fallaw, Katie Wil­liams, Ray Diedrichs, Ann Carter, Is­abella Wil­liams, Ge­orge Boyd, Aaron Locke, Kyle Webb. Third row, Don­ald Greene, Brad Hol­lomon, Char­lie Kal­lay, Laurie Quinn, Joe Di­a­mond, Christo­pher Har­ri­son, Grace Kel­ley, Eric Bishop, Glae­den Boyd, Keith Whar­ton (Di­rec­tor). Back row, Sky­lar Lan­dis, Frank Ger­ber, Jim Pi­leggi, Christo­pher Grant, Sheila Walker. Not pic­tured, new mem­bers, Bray­den Buie, El­iz­a­beth Bergstrom, Alexus Ab­ner, Sa­muel Carter, Bob Hamel, and Gregory Jones.

PHOTO BY S.G. ATKIN­SON

From left, Nina Sharp, John Feld­man, Rob­bie Spray and John Haas share a tense mo­ment in the court room in the mur­der mystery “Wit­ness for the Pros­e­cu­tion,” open­ing March 24 at Church Hill Theatre.

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