Spotlight Theatre Company presents Agatha Christie's classic MURDER ON THE NILE playing now through September 22nd. After Simon leaves his fiancee Jacqueline to marry heiress Kay Ridgeway, Jacqueline plots revenge and follows the couple on their honeymoon down the Nile. When Kay ends up dead, murder is the only answer, and Jacqueline is the only suspect…or so it seems. For also aboard are a motley group of passengers who are all revealed to have mysterious connections to Kay and her fortune.
So no pressure Spotlight Theatre, but my grandma is a mystery lover and her favorite author is Agatha Christie and since I absolutely love my grandmother (Love You Grandma and Grandpa Mulhern!!!), I have literally read every, single collected work by the genius that is Agatha Christie! I have to say job well done! It takes an entire ensemble to build suspense and ultimately create the mystery and draw us in and the company of MURDER ON THE NILE did exactly just that! Act One we learned about the character on the boat and set up the conflicts, Act Two built the suspense and hysteria and finally Act Three was Whodunit!
This ensemble was full of quirky characters and outstanding performances. This show belonged to Haley Johnson as Jacqueline De Severac. Her energy and passion drew every audience member in and her performance was fabulous and sinister. I do have one critic - when she is caught and confessing to the crime (I am not giving anything away - it's in the book!), I needed her to alter her persona to a more confident and menacing killer and then when she realizes she was put in a trap, she can go back to the hysterical victim. Todd Black also did a superb job as the sleuthing priest, Canon Pennefather who was mysterious and compassionate and blended each of them well. It was refreshing to see Christian Mast take a break from his odd-ball characters that he is known for and play a more straight-laced role in the distraught husband, Simon Mostyn. He did a great job of guiding the show along and was just wonderful in the role. Kaity Talmage-Bowers as his doomed wife was magnificent and just delightful to watch onstage. Deborah Curtis as the fussy Miss ffoliot-ffoulkes stole the show in her amusing performance. Her niece, Christina Grant (played by Jenny Weiss) was lovely and had great chemistry with Smith (played by Phillip Bettison). Dale Haltom as Dr. Bessner did a good job, but it was amusing trying to figure out what country his accent came from. I also have to give a special kudos to Kenneth Berba as the Beadseller. His overacting and over exuberance really made for comic moments in the beginning of the play and the audience loved it!
Now I was a little hesitant when it was announced that there would be two intermissions, but director Bernie Cardell never lost the suspense even with the breaks.The steady flow and concentration of the actors never stopped and as soon as we got back in our seats, they skillfully drew us right back in. The only thing I would have changed was the second gunshot. I would have made it more obvious for the audiences benefit (bring the gun out of the screen more) and draw out that menacing moment. Bernie was also in charge of this rich and Egyptian set. The set had multiple entrances to keep you guessing and total props to Beki Pineda for putting the finishing touches on this set that transporting you to a boat....in Egypt and gave it that ethnic feel. I loved the middle-eastern music that sound designer, Luke Allen Terry provided as well as perfect effects and lighting designer added those special touches that gave it great suspense. The costumes by designer RoseMary Smith were totally appropriate for the time period and completely enhanced the performances.
This is simply an enjoyable evening of mystery thanks to thoughtful directing, wonderful acting and a gorgeous set that makes the perfect setting......for murder! Spotlight Theatre keep audiences guessing with MURDER ON THE NILE playing now through September 22nd. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at The John Hand Theater, 7653 E. 1st Place, Denver. For tickets or more information, contact the John Hand Theater by calling 720-880-8727 or online at www.thisisspotlight.org.