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New Season for Naples Players

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Michael Pineda, Beverly Canell and Brigid Wallace Michael Pineda, Beverly Canell and Brigid Wallace

Dating from 1972, the musical Something’s Afoot is now playing in Naples at the Sugden Community Theatre. The play only lasted for 61 performances on Broadway in 1976, but was more successful in London, where it ran 232 times. That is not surprising as the British public is more attuned the the basic premise of the play, which is an English country house murder.

This genre of literature (which has become even more prominent on the stage) is of course exemplified by Agatha Christie. Her most famous book, in its stage version, has been regaling audiences in London for decades. But this is not the Mousetrap. It is, however a musical spoof of another Christie book, And Then There Were None.

There is no need to relate the plot of this musical, as it is detailed on Wikipedia. The only question for the reviewer of such a production is: does it work? If you either like a spot of sherry, or a cup of tea, the answer is a definite yes. This is definitely for a sophisticated audience who enjoy the Charleston elements in the dance tune I Don’t Know Why I Trust You , or the double entendre in The Dinghy Song.

In this production, the sterling performance by the 17-year-old actress Brigid Wallace makes it all worthwhile. Her presence, form and dancing ability combine to create the perfect embodiment of the flighty blonde. Whether or not she turns out to be a mass murderer is left for the final moments of the play to reveal.

Beverly Canell as Miss Tweed (the embodiment of Agatha Christie) is superb. One has to be a really good actor to exaggerate the melodrama of the play at just the right pitch without going overboard. Carell achieves this and her performance keeps all the others in synch. The ensemble cast all deliver with a high degree of believability, which is not easy as the characters are nothing more than caricatures of Christie’s creations.

Here is a synopsis of the cast:

Beverly Canell is Miss Tweed, the self-appointed leader of the survivors and amateur detective, set on discovering who the killer is. This will be Beverly’s twenty-fifth show in her acting career. Her most recent credits with The Naples Players include the role of Ernestina Moneyin Hello Dolly, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (ensemble)and A Christmas Carol(Caroler).                                                                   

              Randall Jones plays black sheep nephew, Nigel Rancour.   Jones, no stranger to The Players stage, most recently starred in this summer’s production of Legally Blonde as Professor Callahan and in fall 2014 as Norbert in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Filling the shoes of retired military Colonel Gillweather is Kevin Kenneally who last appeared with the Players as Underling in The Drowsy Chaperone.                                    


              Making his Naples Players debut is Brent Nicholas as Clive, the Butler. Brent studied music at the West Virginia Institute of Technology and was a high school musical director in Morgantown, WV prior to joining The Players.  Dr. Grayburn, the family doctor, will be played by Matt O’ Hare who was last seen in The Naples Players production of Oklahoma! as well as in The Drowsy Chaperone and Gypsy.                                      


              Les Prebble will play Flint, the caretaker. Les, a Naples Players veteran, last played Duncan in The Naples Players production of Leading Ladies. Brigid Wallace takes the stage as Hope Langdon, the Ingénue. Wallace has had a busy year with the Players, last performing in the summer production of Legally Blonde, and shortly before as winsome farm girl, Laurey, in Oklahoma!                                                                                      

        Three Naples Players KidzAct alums will perform in Something’s Afoot.  Mary Mitchell, who starred in the KidzAct production of 42nd Street as Dorothy Brock and Cats as Grizabella will play Lettie, the saucy maid; Michael Pineda who last performed in the KidzAct production of Lollapalooza will play Geoffrey, a college student who becomes entangled in the web of mystery surrounding the murder; and Michelle Ritter will be playing Lady Grace Manley-Prowe. Ritter, who has been acting since the age of 8, appeared in the summer 2015 production of Legally Blonde as Enid Hoopes and previously in the KidzAct productions of 42nd Street and Cats. Ritter is a 2013 graduate of The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.                           

The Naples Players began in 1952, and moved to the prestigious location in downtown Naples in 1998. They stage some 220 performances a year and have a subscriber base of some 4,000. They have an exciting season of productions for 2015-2016. Current and future ones are:

The Foreigner  (Nov. 25-Dec. 20) is a comic romp about a pathologically shy guy.
Other Desert Cities (Jan. 13 2016-Feb. 7) is a witty satire about explosive family secrets.
Young Frankenstein (Mar. 2-Apr. 3) is a musical comedy adapted from the Mel Brooks movie.
The Dixie Swim Club (Apr 20-May 15) is a comedy about 5 Southern women.

All the above are at the large Blackburn Hall. The smaller Tobye Hall will be the venue for:
Spinning into Butter (Oct. 28-Nov. 21) a drama about racism in America.
The 39 Steps (Feb. 3 2016-Feb. 27) based on the Hitchcock film.
A Sleeping Country (Mar. 23-Apr. 16) a comedy dealing with insomnia.

Call the box office for tickets: 239-263-7990

Clifford Cunningham

Dr. Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist. He earned his PhD in the history of astronomy at the University of Southern Queensland, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. In 2014 he was named a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of 14 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honor in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union based on the recommendation of its bureau located at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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