Playwright Ken Ludwig is a pretty popular guy on Cape Cod right now.
Not only is thestory of his parents' romance during World War II playing out in a local premiere at Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, but just down the road, Chatham Drama Guild is opening his adaptation of one of the classic murder mysteries of all time: Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express."
What's not written by Ludwig at Cape theaters? Miranda Jont's one-woman autobiographical play is so popular that the run was extended another week. Then there's the most seasonal of the shows, in a fashion. Cape Cod Community College is producingthe area premiereof Larissa Fasthorse's "A Thanksgiving Play" that gives a very different, for mature audiences only, perspective onwhat really happened at that first feast centuries ago.
Written by: Ken Ludwig, based on the book by Agatha Christie,presented by the Chatham Drama Guild
What it's about: Its winter1934 and strangers are (seemingly) thrown together for a rail trip from Istanbul to London on the legendary and elegant Orient Express train. Also along for the ride is world-famous detective Hercule Poirot (Joe Theroux), the master Belgian sleuth at the center of Christiemysteries. Before the champagnehas had time to chill, there is, of course ,a murder. Obnoxious, zoot-suit-wearing Samuel Rachett (Bragan Thomas) is found dead in his compartment with eight stab wounds and too many clues, as the always-debonair Poirot declares. But fear not, the master investigator will live up to his sterling reputation and unravel the mystery.
See it or not: Go to once again be immersed in Christie's gentle geniusand her alter-ego Poirot.
Highlight of the show: Therouxs take on Christies diminutive detective is spot-on. He is brilliant yet subtle, and commanding yet endearing. He engages the audience from the beginning, often speaking directly to the assembled mystery lovers, bringing them into the heart of the action. Its never easy to step on stage as such a familiar character, and Theroux proves equal to the challenge. He is ably supported by a cast that includes some guildveterans: Thomas (who doubles as Scottish Colonel Arbuthnot), Stephanie Haig as British beauty Mary Debenham, and Kathy Hamilton as aristocratic Countess Andrenyi. If youre a guild regular, youll remember Haig as the delightfully mischievous Elvira in Blithe Spirit, and Thomas as a down-on-his luck Shakespearean actor/actress in Leading Ladies.
Fun fact: To date, there have been 10 Hercule Poirot films and a popular and long-running British TV series starring the incomparable David Suchet.
Worth noting: The costumes are both authentic and attractive, thanks to costumer Pam Banas. And an ingenious set design allows scenes to switch seamlessly from the trains lounge to individual compartments.
One more thing: The play is perfectly suited to the guilds small and intimate theater, with the audience drawn into the action from the start.
If you go: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 28 at Chatham Drama Guild, 134 Crowell Road; $24; 508-945-0510,http://www.chatdramaguild.org/.Masks are required for unvaccinated patrons.
Written by: Ken Ludwig, presented by Cape Rep Theatre
What it's about: Its the early days of World War II and Jack and Louise on opposite coasts are thrown together by parents who are sure they should meet, if only via the U.S. postal service. What follows is a courtship-by-letter as Jack, an army physician in Oregon, and Louise, a struggling actress in the Big Apple, wend their way through the highs and lows of their burgeoning romance. The audience is there in Louises boudoir and Jacks army barracks as each of the sweethearts recites letters to the other.
Highlight of the show: The co-stars timing is perfect. As Jack (Lewis D. Wheeler) is opening a letter on his half of the stage, Louise (Jade Schuyler) is reciting its contents in her little corner of the world. Then, of course, the process is reversed. Neither reacts to the other, cementing the illusion that the pen pals are separated by thousands of miles.
Fun fact: The play is actually based on the real-life romance of playwright Ken Ludwigs parents. That should tell you theres a happy ending; Ludwig is, after all, here to tell the story.
Worth noting: The combination of authentic WWII-era costumes and love songs transports the audience back to a time of romance and glamour.
One more thing: The stage is hung with oversized sheets of writing paper and telegrams, an effective reminder of the romance-by-letter.
If you go: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 21 at Cape Rep Theatre, 3299 Route 6A, Brewster. Tickets: $25;Reservations and information: 508-896-1888, http://www.caperep.org. All patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination, and be required to wear a mask during performances.
Written and performed by: Miranda Jont, presented by the Cotuit Center for the Arts
What its about: This one-person, autobiographical show, directed by Kerry Flanagan, showcases a woman on the back end of 30 sharing the intimacies and regrets of a lifetime so far. They include relationships borne of habit and desperation that left her empty, vulnerable and unsure of her own viability as a woman, as a human being. After a long-term relationship dissolves, she tries on a bunch of others, seeking her own self-worth.
See it or not: This monodrama is eminently relatable (who hasnt lived through relationship lies and heartache?), funny, poignant and entertaining. The script tends to rely too much on crude language and cliches at times, but, overall, it is an engaging 60 minutes of theater.
Highlight of the show: Miranda Jont is a true talent, captivating the audience with a story that is, truth be told, not all that earth-shattering. Her charisma and passion carry the evening, which leans toward confessional at times.
Fun fact: This play was initially an autobiographical Facebook post that went viral. A literary manager read it, and asked Miranda to develop it for the stage.
Worth noting: Jonte starred in the centers streaming video series Teacher of the Year, and creating this production included others involved in that show.
Theater is back! Two Cape companies stage musical revues for global reopening celebration
One more thing: You need to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination to attend; masks are still recommended in the small space.
If you go: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 14at the Vivian and Morton Sigel Black Box Theater, Cotuit Center For the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Road;$25, $20 for members;508-428-0669, http://www.artsonthecapeorg. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entrance.
Theater returns to Cape Cod Community College with Larissa Fasthorse's "The Thanksgiving Play," which is described as giving audiences "an inside view at what happens when an overachieving and oh-so-politically-correct high school teacher tries to stage the first Thanksgiving for her students but finds herself way over her head when cultural suppositions, political correctness and social "woke-ness" reframe the historical narrative."
This play,intended for mature audiences and containingreferences to culturally insensitive material, will conclude its run at 7 p.m. Nov. 12-13 and 2 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Studio Theatre at Tilden Arts Center at the college, 2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable. Masks are required to be worn at all times when inside the building. Tickets and information: https://www.eventbrite.com/.
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