Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Zev Buffman, the super producer who brought Elizabeth Taylor to the stage in “The Little Foxes, among many other productions, outdid himself last night by providing an English rain for the audience members as they left the Parker Playhouse after seeing his latest production “Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders” . It hadn’t rained in Fort Lauderdale all week so it makes you wonder if the man made a special deal with The Man!
“Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders” performs 4 one act plays written by Ms. Christie for the BBC between 1937 and 1947. Each play lasts between 30-35 minutes hosted by Ms. Christie (played by Melinda Peterson) who tells a little about her life as she introduces each section.
Mr. Buffman has assembled a cast of 14, most Equity actors, from Indiana to Australia, each playing 3-4 different roles most succeeding with a few minor missteps here and there. Each play takes place in a radio studio as performed back in the day with actors holding, and sometimes reading from, their scripts, though many costumes and back wall projections along with entrances and exits that I am sure didn’t take place when originally read on the BBC.
Each play has its Edgar Allan Poe twist and, admittedly, your reviewer isn’t very good at figuring out mysteries, is not exactly foreseen. Of the 4 one act plays the most familiar will probably be “Three Blind Mice” which would later become the stage play “The Mousetrap” which in turn became the world’s longest running play ever. “Yellow Iris” not only introduces us to Inspector Hercule Poirot (Phil Proctor) but also to 3 songs, set in the period times and reminiscent to Cole Porter tunes, by Rupert Holmes and Robert Marsanyl, the former the first person to win Tony Awards for both best book and best score of a musical for his creation of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” which is currently enjoying a successful revival on Broadway.
In addition to“Yellow Iris” and “Three Blind Mice” there are “Personal Call” and “Butter in a Lordly Dish” which brings special mention of Tony Brewer and Lauren Allison who are the Foley Artists, the two people who provide all the sound effects for the 4 radio plays, including a man walking around on winter skis!
The question is if Mr. Buffman has a deal to have that British rain surround the Parker Playhouse area after each performance of “Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders”?!