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Spotlight: ‘Spider’s Web’

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Submitted Photo Pictured, from left, are Mike Bozeman, Mark Salas, Charles Lathrop, Tricia Hart, Guy Malone and Don James. Rehearsals continued for Agatha Christie's "Spider's Web" play, even when the weather made it difficult for some of the actors who were driving in from Dexter and Hagerman.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Roswell Community Little Theatre presents an Agatha Christie detective parody

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Roswell Community Little Theatre (RCLT), 1717 S. Union Ave., presents, “Spider’s Web” by Agatha Christie. The suspenseful parody of detective thrillers is directed by Kathy Cook.

“Spider’s Web” is one of the few stories written by Agatha Christie that were meant to be a play. It was written for actor Margaret Lockwood and opened at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England in 1954.

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Despite being Christie’s second most successful play, running longer than “Witness for the Prosecution,” there were only two adaptations for the big screen, keeping it a favorite for live theater. Christie’s fans all over the world celebrated the “Queen of Crime’s” centennial anniversary in 2020 — mostly virtual because of the pandemic.

The story itself follows Clarissa, the wife of a diplomat, who loves spinning large tales of adventure. The introduction is as follows: “When a murder takes place in her drawing room, she finds live drama much harder to cope with. Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. Hilarity ensues when they are interrupted by the arrival of wry detective, Inspector Lord.

“A conscious parody of the detective thriller, Christie delivers a unique blend of suspense and humor. There is tension and laughter in equal parts in an intricate plot of murder, police, invisible ink, hidden doorways and secret drawers.”

In a phone interview, Cook talks about RCLT’s new play. She said that despite a winter storm and the pandemic, rehearsals were taking place. “It (the winter storm) couldn’t have happened at a worse time with us opening. As they say, the show must go on, and we have dedicated actors. They are making it happen, making it work,” Cook said.

Cook is originally from Roswell, being born and raised here. She returned with her husband Ed Cook to take care of her parents. The couple have a photography and music business for events, which includes a recording studio where other artists can record their music. “I’m also the pianist at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, I do the Mass there. We kind of get around the city quite a bit,” Kathy Cook said and laughed.

Kathy Cook said that her husband is originally from Indiana. “He and I met when I was playing the organ and piano at a church in Indiana,” she said. “It was the church he attended. I was playing at the church, we were both married to other people at the time, and then about seven years later, when we were both divorced, we got back together through a mutual friend.”

Asked about the play, Kathy Cook said, “This one has probably more humor in it than some of the other things that she’s written. She always has that British humor, but this one has lots of moments of some really funny moments. If you pay really close attention, you’ll be able to tell the clues on who’s going to be the murderer at the end. It’s really a fun show and the actors have taken their characters and fleshed them all out and figured out all the hidden meanings.”

She said there are two child actors performing. “We have two girls who play that part, one in the evening and one playing the matinees, to give more young people the opportunity to perform with us,” she said.

This will be Kathy Cook’s first play as a full director, however, she has been working for several years at RCLT. “I have been assistant director on a couple of shows, and I am usually the music director for any musical they do. I was assistant director and then stepped into full director, when Jeorganna (Simoes) stepped back. They (RCLT’s board of directors) allowed me to be on the director’s list because I had so much previous experience, they let that weigh in as well. Prior to that, I taught for 10 years at a high school in Indiana and was everything: I was assistant director, director, music director, set constructor. I was all,” she said and chuckled.

The play, Kathy Cook said, is for older children. “There is no language that is a problem for anybody,” she said. “There is nothing that they (the audience) see that is going to be frightening or gory for anybody. Just use good judgement, if they think their child will be bothered (by discussions of murder). We have an 11-year-old in the cast.

“We are having a good time doing the show and I think the audience will see how much they enjoyed doing it and hope they’ll enjoy it as well,” she said.

According to Kathy Cook, all audience members are requested to wear masks and to sit 6 feet apart in the auditorium.

Cast members are Tricia Hart as Clarissa Hailsham-Brown; Guy Malone as Sir Rowland Delahaye; Charles Lathrop as Jeremy Warrender; Don James as Hugo Birch; Mike Bozeman as Inspector Lord; Mark Salas as Constable Jones; Dan Tisdel as Elgin (Tisdale is also producer of the play); Deona Anderson as Mildred Peake; Jaron Morris as Oliver Costello; Dan Coleman as Henry Hailsham-Brown and Zelia Santos as Pippa Hailsham-Brown.

Understudies are Edrice Tozier as Clarrisa Hailsham-Brown; Adele Bozeman as Mildred Peake and on Sundays, Lilli Everett as Pippa Hailsham-Brown.

Working behind the scenes are Chris Wipperman (assistant director) and taking care of lights and sound is Lynetta Zuber.

The audience will have four more chances, including today, Feb. 28, and the following weekend, March 5 to 7, to see the play. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. For more information, visit roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1982.