SPRING HILL — Mystery writer Agatha Christie makes a return visit to Stage West Community Playhouse when her intricate story Murder on the Nile opens Thursday, followed by a three-weekend run.
The 1930 Christie mystery Black Coffee (her first creation for the stage) played Stage West in the 2005-06 season and was voted more HAMI Awards than any other play that season.
Murder on the Nile, which debuted in 1946, introduces new characters and an exotic new location, Egypt.
In it, young newlyweds Kay and Simon Mostyn (Angela and Brian Sarabia, Hamlet), are on their honeymoon aboard a paddlewheel boat on the Nile.
To their surprise, also onboard is a bitter Jacqueline De Severac (Jennifer Vilardi, Galloway in A Few Good Men; Same Time, Next Year), who was tossed aside by Simon when he married the very rich Kay. It seems to the couple that Jacqueline has been following them since their wedding, making them quite uncomfortable.
Others on board are Canon Ambrose Pennefather (Peter Clapsis, Funny/Forum, director of Black Coffee), Kay's guardian; Louise (Linda Clapsis), Kay's maid; the wealthy, ill-tempered Helen ffoliot-ffoulks (Leanne Germann); and Ms. ffoliot-ffoulks' companion, the lovely Christina Grant (Fevronia Stampoulis).
Another surprise is the presence of the gruff Dr. Bressner (William "Bill" Schommer), who is known to hold a grudge against Kay's father because of the way the man became a millionaire.
The rest of the passengers include a pleasant young gentleman called Smith (W. Paul Wade); some aggressive bead sellers (Ed O'Looney, Nick Martinez); and a helpful steward (Phillip Gianakas).
The boat has barely left the dock when murder and mayhem break loose. Someone is shot and injured, someone else is murdered, and everyone else is under suspicion.
There are the traditional Christie red herrings and accusations, and, just as it all seems to be coming clear, another murder that eliminates the apparent perpetrator.
The action moves quickly, with each character getting a chance to shine in the best Christie tradition.
Murder on the Nile started out as a play, Moon on the Nile, was made into a book named Death on the Nile, then was written as a play again, named Hidden Horizon, then Appointment With Death and finally its current name, which has stuck since it opened in London in 1946.
Along the way, characters changed, as did the plot.