On Apr. 1-3 and Apr. 8-10, the Saint Leo Theatre Department put on a production of Agatha Christie’s “A Murder is Announced” for the Spring play as announced in Fall 2015. The production was performed in the Black Box Theatre of the newly renovated Benedictine Hall, which is located on the far west side of the University Campus (near admissions). This is a big advancement from the Blithe Spirit production in Fall 2015, which was performed at the pavilion between the Campus Music and Campus Safety buildings. Patrons greatly appreciated the venue as there were little to no disturbances to the play.
“A Murder is Announced,” written by world renowned author Agatha Christie, is her fiftieth published story and is considered her most cleverly written mystery. Published in 1950, this story unfolds with a cryptic notice in the local gazette of a murder happening at a specific place and time, the villagers, particularly Letitia Blacklock (Elizabeth Panek, a senior biology major), makes nothing of this notice and proceeds to go on with normal daily activities by having guests over. The other villagers; however, take this notice more seriously, as it is quite intriguing. As the day goes on and the projected time for the murder draws near, they all get paranoid and, as projected, the murder happens. This story features Miss Marple and unfolds quite cleverly.
The students who brought this story to life, did a wonderful job at reenacting the parts of the villagers and their interesting personalities. They went deep into character and did so with conviction. Dora “Bunny” Bunner, who was portrayed by Emily Kochanski, a sophomore dramaturgy major, did a commendable job at playing her role as she really grabbed the attention of the audience and secured their conviction with her spot-on accent and personality.
The play was excellently designed and put together by the crew and director Alicia Corts, who is an assistant professor of dramaturgy (theatre) here at the University. It is commendable that with limited space and resources, the cast and crew brought such a renowned story to life very well.
Corts commented on the success of the production: “The audience is just as important as the crew and cast, we need that audience to keep us sighted and really into it, we feed off of that in a big way.”
The appreciation from audiences for productions put on by Saint Leo Theatre Department has grown significantly over the semester. Compared to the department’s production of “Blithe Spirit” back in Fall 2015, the play was put on for two consecutive weekends in Apr., which is a big step for the department in terms of exposure.
Corts also enthused about the progression of theatre at Saint Leo: “Theatre is coming up in Saint Leo in a big way. We can’t wait to see who else joins our group. It’s really worthwhile, it’s not just the fun of doing a show, it’s the friendship, the experience in life […] It’s incredible.”
She explained the importance of having a creative space within the college community and the impact it has on students.
“To play takes much work, but when we experience that work is play, it is no longer work but play; a play is play,” enthused Corts.
Corts hopes that with the growth of the theatre at Saint Leo, the department will be able to have productions put on and written by students in the near future. In Fall 2016, the department is set to put on an original play about the Benedictine Sisters written by Saint Leo students, who the renovated Benedictine Hall and the former chapel of the Benedictine Sisters is named after.