FRIDAY 5(+1): AND THEN THERE WERE...Four at Arts Center of Cannon County
Theater audiences in Middle Tennessee are treated to a delicious murder mystery from the doyenne of British whodunits as Arts Center of Cannon County unveils its latest production - Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None - in a sumptuous new mounting from director Cyndie Verbeten. Opening tonight and continuing through October 13, the story focuses on a group of people brought together on a remote island where there is danger and intrigue afoot.
Four members of Verbeten's cast found time during a long and arduous - yet no doubt a whole lot of fun - rehearsal process to share their thoughts about the play and their theatrical experiences for today's installment of Friday 5(+1)...and then there were four:
Douglas Campbell (Thomas Rogers)
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theatre? The first show I remember seeing was a school field trip to see a community theatre production of Ibsen's Enemy of the People. A few years later I was working on that same stage.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Actually, I don't really have one. I just try to know my lines and not trip over the furniture, as the saying goes.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I was in a production of A Christmas Carol one year, and during a dance number one evening a dancer tripped over the edge of the stage into the orchestra pit. The show came to a complete halt and Scrooge called out in all seriousness "Is there a doctor in the house?" Thankfully, the actor was not seriously injured and we continued the performance as soon as he was safely tended to.
What is your dream role? I have had a lot of the years, but after seeing Nathan Lane and local actor Bob Fish do it, I'd love to sink my teeth into Sheridan Whiteside in The Man who Came to Dinner.
Who's your theatrical crush? The aforementioned Nathan Lane - I want to be him when I grow up.
Why should people come to see And Then There Were None? It's an ingenious set up from the Queen of Crime herself and it keeps you guessing even as the bodies pile up!
Terri Ritter (Miss Emily Brent)
What was your first "live, on stage" taste of theater? I started late In life with theater and my first taste was doing Tennessee USA at the Cumberland County Playhouse. And to get a small speaking part was very exciting and I was hooked. But I jumped right in and auditioned for Brigadoon and kept going. Over the next several years it was show after show.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Walking across the stage early and to walk around backstage. Just to center myself and at the same time pick up on the excitement vibe going on. Saying hi to the crew.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? ?In Annie Get Your Gun we had two cast members dressed as Indians and they dropped down from the catwalk over the audience. On opening night one got his hair caught in the rigging and a ladder had to be brought out to get him free. This happened twice in a row, but the best moment was when it finally worked and the lead began to sing "There's No Business Like Show Business" everyone clapped and cheered.
What's your dream role? That would be playing Miss Emily Brent in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.
Who's You're theatrical crush? Nate Hackmann.
Why should people come and see And Then There Were None? Best reason of all...it is a great show and the audience will be involved In the mystery from the very beginning. Wonderful costumes and set. But most of all the cast is great. Everyone has worked hard to give each and every audience member a great experience
Ted Verbeten (William Henry Blore)
What was your first "live, on stage" taste of theater? In eighth grade. I was asked to be in a performance group the school was putting together. We sang, danced and did small skits. I was bit from that moment on!
What's your favorite pre-show ritual? Find a quiet spot, just after Green Room, and start pulling myself into my character. I do a couple of deep breathing exercise and then I will pantomime my opening scene, getting the character set, before I go on.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? My most memorable "the show must go on" moment was during a production of Cabaret at CFTA in Mufreesboro, a few years ago. I played the role of Ernst Ludwig. On the day of the final performance, I had a serious blood sugar crash, and passed out a few hours before curtain. Anyone who has blood sugar issues know that after a major "crash", you have zero energy, feel nauseous and it takes a good day to feel "normal". Well, the show had to go on, and so did I! I don't remember much from that final performance, other than I was told it was my best of the run!
What's your dream role? One of my "dream roles" would be to play Willy Lohman in Death of a Salesman. It's a tough show and a long one at that! I think I'm the right age now and have enough under my belt to tackle it!
Who's your theatrical crush? Any actor/actress that has a real ease and naturalness about them on stage. I love watching good acting; and watching for the emotional and physical choices that they make in a scene. It's a gift to me when an actor moves me to emotion. It's one of the coolest things to experience!
Why should people come to see And Then There Were None? Because we have assembled a wonderful cast of talented actors, that tell a great story. Cyndie Verbeten has done a fabulous job with her direction in shaping a show with full characters and a visually interesting set. The story itself is a classic whodunnit, that offers intrigue, mystery and some humor. In all, a really good night of local theater!
Anne Armstrong Black (Vera Claythorne)
What was your first "live, on stage" taste of theater? In high school. I took a drama class (my one and only) and the teacher of that class was also directing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I auditioned and got a part as a back up singer for the Narrator. I was able to wear a beautiful silver dress and it was a very fun and confidence building experience for me.
What's your favorite pre-show ritual? To find a quiet place, alone for a moment of silence. I take some deep breaths say a silent prayer and tell myself that I've got this. This centers me and helps me focus.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Before a performance of The Dixie Swim Club. I had gotten a terrible sinus infection. I could hardly talk and I felt horrible. My friend, who was a nurse, met me backstage and gave me a shot in the back side about 30 minutes before showtime. I drink an energy drink about 20 minutes later and went on stage. The performance went well and, as an added bonus, I began to get over this sinus infection. I am forever grateful to my friend for that. And looking back at that experience helps me realize that I can overcome a lot to do what needs to be done.
What's your dream role? I am not sure that I have a dream role. Although I would do the role of Vera Claythorne again in a heartbeat. I think it would be fun to be Betty in The Foreigner or one of the aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace. As far as musicals go, I'd love to be one of the best friends in Mamma Mia because Abba is all kinds of cool.
Who's your theatrical crush? I don't really have a theatrical crush, but I do like seeing Jason Ross perform at The Cumberland County Playhouse. I also enjoy watching Charlie Winton and Martha Wilkinson at Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre in Nashville.
Why should people come to see And Then There Were None? Most shows I've seen in the area have been musicals or comedies. I love musicals and comedies, but, in my opinion, And Then There Were None is a refreshing change of pace. It is a powerful mystery story that has stood the test of time. The play has elements of comedy, suspense and drama. It really has something for everyone.
About Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
A group of strangers are invited to Soldier Island with the supposed covenant of money and new opportunity, but when frightful weather strikes, they become isolated from the mainland, unable to leave and with no sign of their hosts. On their first evening trapped on the island, a record on a gramophone plays with a voice that announces different accusations of murder against each guest, leaving them to distinguish between the guilty and the not guilty. Meanwhile, they are becoming troubled by a row of twelve figures, mysteriously disappearing from the mantelpiece behind them in accordance with a dark and murderous nursery rhyme.
And Then There Were None is directed by Cyndie Verbeten This production features Charlie Winton, Joshua Jennings, David Cummings, Skip Ritter, Anne Armstrong Black, Douglas Campbell, Phil Mote, Sherry Sunday Booth, Terri Ritter, Mitch Shannon and Ted Verbeten.
Tickets are $15 with discounts available for students and seniors and can be purchased by calling (615) 563-2787 Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or online at www.artscenterofcc.com and (subject to availability) at the door one hour prior to show time.
The Arts Center is located on 1424 John Bragg Highway, just west of the town of Woodbury, approximately 20 minutes from Murfreesboro, Manchester, and McMinnville and one hour southeast of Nashville.