Oil Lamp Theater Presents MURDER ON THE NILE

Oil Lamp Theater Presents MURDER ON THE NILE

Executive and Artistic Director, Keith Gerth and Associate Artistic Director, Stephen Smith of the Oil Lamp Theater in Glenview announce their next production, the gripping thriller Murder on the Nile by Agatha Christie. This tale of mystery and suspense is directed by Oil Lamp's Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth and will be performed from September 26th through November 10th 2019 at 1723 Glenview Road in Glenview.

It's 1947, and the riverboat Lotus is cruising lazily down the Nile River in Egypt. On board is an eclectic mix of tourists -- some elegant, some haughty, some troubled and eccentric -- all bound for exotic destinations along the ancient and storied Egyptian river. We soon discover that these passengers have odd relationships to one another and, in many instances, these relationships raise troubling questions and some genuine concerns. Since this is a tale created by Agatha Christie, we can be reasonably confident that not everyone on this boat will be around for the end of the cruise.

Among the tourists is a young couple celebrating their honeymoon, the wealthy and charismatic socialite Kay Mostyn (Kalika Rose) and her handsome but financially insecure husband Simon (Jeremy Schaye). Their romantic interlude is soon disturbed by the presence on board the ship of an unwelcomed guest - Simon's former fiancée and Kay's one-time best friend, Jacqueline de Severac (Sarah-Lucy Hill). It seems that this uninvited guest is an emotional and mercurial young woman who has been dogging the footsteps of the newlyweds since shortly after their wedding. Though Jacqueline insists that these encounters are completely coincidental, Kay and Simon have serious doubts.

Kay receives yet another surprise when she runs into her uncle and guardian, Canon Ambrose Pennefather (Peter Brian Kelly), a clergyman also traveling on board the steamer. When Kay remarks about the remarkable coincidence of this encounter, Pennefather responds, "Indeed, Kay, you know I always believe there is no such thing as chance." As Canon Pennefather takes on a pivotal role as the detective who attempts to unravel the mysteries unfolding on the steamer, these words soon become prophetic.

Tensions build and complications increase as the motives and hidden agendas of each character on the ship are laid bare. For example, Dr. Ludwig Bessner (Bill Chamberlain) is a seemingly harmless physician from a small country in central Europe. He's a seasoned traveler who has visited the tourist sites of Egypt many times before. But he, too, turns out to have a connection with Kay Mostyn. Years ago, he says, Kay's father was directly responsible for the financial ruin of both his family and his country.

Then there's Kay's French maid, Louise (Mackenzie Williams). Is she as devious and manipulative as she sometimes seems to be? And what about that unpleasant older Englishwoman with the astonishing name of Miss Ffoliot-Ffoulkes (Gina Phillips)? Her sense of entitlement and class privilege manage to offend virtually everyone who comes in contact with her. And yet, she is accompanied on this voyage by her pleasant and infinitely patient niece, Christina Grant (Katarina Vandlik). Miss Grant seems exceedingly even tempered and sensible, almost to a fault. She is so good-natured that one is tempted to ask... what could she be hiding?

William Smith (Scott Myers), is a brash and irreverent young man who appears to be travelling alone on the steamboat. In his conversations with other travelers he allies himself with causes of the "working man," and seems remarkably out of place in this upper-class setting. And yet his sharp and cynical wit, together with the sparkle in his eyes, hint at hidden agendas.

As the story evolves and we learn more about this charming but devious little group of travelers, it becomes clear that everyone on board the Lotus is quite capable of murder -- even the ship's Steward (Manny Sevilla) or perhaps the Ship's Manager McNaught (Ken Rubenstein), both of whom seem to be working hard to maintain order and calm aboard their unlucky riverboat.

In her inimitable fashion, Agatha Christie leads her audience down a hall of mirrors that challenges everyone to figure out "whodunit" before the truth is finally revealed. She takes us on a thrill ride with many twists and surprises that no one sees coming. The tension builds as tantalizing clues are presented that reveal the passions and hidden motives of this group of individuals seemingly thrown together by chance on their Nile River cruise.

When the shocking truth is finally laid bare, it is uncovered with a deft skill and audacity that only a brilliant mind like Christie's could create.

The play is based on Christie's 1937 novel Death on the Nile. It had its world premier at the Dundee Repertory Theatre in Dundee, Scotland under the title Hidden Horizon. It was eventually produced with its current title at the Ambassador's Theatre in London's West End in March, 1946. The play then premiered on Broadway under its original title, Hidden Horizon, at the Plymouth Theater in New York on 19 September, 1946.

Agatha Christie (Playwright), the world's best selling mystery writer, is often called "the Queen of Crime." Her novels have sold more than two billion copies around the world, and she is outsold only by the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. Christie is the prolific author of 66 detective novels and 14 collections of short stories, and is particularly noted for having created two of the most beloved characters in fiction, the delightful detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. She also wrote several romances.

Christie's career as a playwright began in 1930 when she wrote her first play, Black Coffee. Along with Murder on the Nile, her most popular plays include And Then There Were None (1943), Witness for the Prosecution (1953), and The Mousetrap (1952). The Mousetrap holds the record as the world's longest running theatrical production. (It opened in London's West End at the St. Martin's Theatre in October, 1952 where it is still running today.) Christie was born in Devon, England in 1890 to an American father and English mother. Among her other well-received plays are An Appointment with Death (1945) and The Hollow (1951). With The Mousetrap (1952), Witness for the Prosecution (1953), and Spider's Web (1954), Christie became the only female playwright to ever have three plays running in London at the same time. Ms. Christie died at the age of 85 at her home, Winterbrook House in Oxfordshire, on 12 January 1976. Her account of her life, An Autobiography, was published posthumously in 1977.

Keith Gerth (Executive and Artistic Director) founded Oil Lamp Theater in 2005. Prior to establishing the Theater, which was originally located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Keith held a number of positions. After high school, Keith was a carpenter for eight years with Murray Countertops in Streator, Illinois. He left that position in 1989 to obtain a degree in Financial Accounting from Illinois State University. Keith graduated with honors and began working for the global professional services firm of Deloitte in 1991 and became a Certified Public Accountant. He worked at Deloitte for fifteen years in the Audit and Assurance practice, from which he retired in 2005 at the level of Director. Keith was professionally trained in acting at Act One Studios in Chicago, Illinois. Keith has been actively involved in the community and has served on the boards of the Glenview Art League and the Glenview Chamber of Commerce. Keith is married to Carole Flamm. They live in Northbrook.

Performances of Murder on the Nile are presented Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at 8:00pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. Tickets are $40 and include complimentary cookies and soft drinks. For fall, there is also spiced warm apple cider. Student tickets are available for $25. Oil Lamp Theater is BYOB with complimentary corkage and glasses. The complete performance schedule and tickets are available at 847-834-0738 or online at oillamptheater.org. Group rates are available.

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