Fish Creek, WI. – Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre and Door County’s theatrical icon, continues its 81st season July 7 through 24 when it presents Agatha Christie’s intriguing whodunit, “The Hollow.” A weekend in the English countryside goes deathly awry with an explosive murder in this spell-binding mystery.
Christie is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play, “The Mousetrap.” Her books have sold more than a billion copies in the English language and a billion in 44 foreign languages. “The Hollow” was first produced in 1951 and is adapted from her 1946 novel.
Peninsula Players has produced several of Christie’s mysteries such as “And Then There Were None,” “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Spider’s Web.” “The Hollow” makes its debut at Peninsula Players this season. “The Hollow” is set in the early 1950s just outside of London at the stately country home of Sir and Lady Henry Angkatell where the gathering of family and close friends turn unexpectedly deadly.
While guests unpack, dress for dinner and partake in pre-dinner cocktails, the handsome Dr. John Cristow finds himself surrounded by his mistress Henrietta, ex-mistress Veronica and his wife Gerda, all of whom voice their romantic yearning towards him. Meanwhile, cousin Midge expresses her love for the bookish Edward, who inherited the coveted family estate. But, much to her dismay, Edward only has eyes for the aforementioned Henrietta.
The festive weekend comes to a screeching halt when one of the guests is suddenly murdered. Everyone has opportunities and motives. The charming Inspector Colquhoun and down-to-earth assistant, Sergeant Penny, follow Christie’s well-crafted twists and hunt to unmask the killer. Christie, the Queen of Crime, keeps audiences guessing and guessing.
Peninsula Players is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers as well a member of the United Scenic Artists.
Joe Foust, who directed last season’s suspenseful “Dial M for Murder,” maps the tension and intrigue Christie crafted. Foust also directed the Peninsula Players’ popular thrillers “Wait Until Dark” and “Deathtrap.”
“’The Hollow’ is a sexier ‘Downton Abby’ filled with opulence, glamour, intrigue, humor, drama …. oh, and a murder,” Foust said.
Christie set her story at an elegant estate and scenic designer Sarah E. Ross has fashioned a sophisticated library. “The scene shop crew has been busy building and painting 16-foot walls, bookcases, a marble floor and a stone terrace,” Foust said. “Elegant attire is required for such surroundings and costume designer Rachel Lambert and her team has been building lush and stylish cocktail gowns and amassing fashionable suits.”
The mystery takes place over the course of a few days, so in addition to evening-wear there is day-wear. “Each character has about four different outfits,” Foust said. “Each costume has been designed to fit the character’s personalities which vary from sexy, funny, needy, eccentric, flawed, passionate, and surprising. Yet, all are intriguing, each hiding a dark side and secrets.”
The cast playing Christie’s unconventional characters include Steve Koehler, who makes his Players debut as the philandering Dr. John Cristow; Maggie Carney, (“Rumors,” “The Lady with all the Answers”) as his long-suffering wife, Gerda; Erica Elam (“The Tin woman,” “Born Yesterday”) as Henrietta, John’s current lover and a sculptress; and Katherine Keberlein (“A Real Lulu,” “Dial M for Murder”) as Veronica, the glamorous ex-mistress who still carries a torch for John.
Tom Mula (“Heroes,” “Opus”) is cast as Lord Angkatell, the playful host of the weekend and Penny Slusher (“Chapatti”) as the batty-as-a-fox family matriarch, Lady Angkatell. Matt Holzfeind (“The Tin Woman,” “Lend Me a Tenor”) is the seemingly hum-drum cousin Edward Angkatell; and newcomer Katherine Duffy as Midge.
James Leaming (“Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure,” “The Foreigner”) is cast at the unflappable Inspector Colquhoun; and his junior officer, Sergeant Penny, will be played by Foust (“Around the World in 80 Days,” “Lend Me a Tenor.”) Rounding out the cast are Mark Moede (“And Then There Were None”) as the steadfast family butler, Gudgeon, and Ashley Lanyon (“Nunsnese,” “Lend Me a Tenor”) as Doris, an inexperienced and nervous maid.
Carney’s stage credit include The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Rep and Cygnet Theatre and Elam collaborates with Second City and has performed with Steppenwolf and Northlight Theatre. Recent credits for Duffy include “The Amish Project” and “Sylvia” with Third Avenue Playhouse while Foust performed in Theater Wit’s production of “The (Curious Case of the) Watson intelligence.” Also in Chicago, Holzfeind performed in Paramount Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!;” Keberlein in ”American Beauty Shop” at Chicago Dramatists. Koehler performed in “To Kill a Mockingbird” with Children’s Theater of Madison and “Victory Farm” at Northern Sky Theater.
Lanyon recently performed in “Nice Work If You Can Get it” at Theatre at the Center and Leaming has performed Shakespeare, Shaw and a one-man-show “This Wonderful Life” around the country. Moede has performed with Door Shakespeare, Woodwalk Gallery and Third Avenue Playhouse; Mula’s credit include playing Scrooge for several seasons at the Goodman Theatre while Slusher’s regional credits include Writers Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre and St. Louis Repertory Theatre.
The creative team of the 1950s English country home include regional and award-winning designers including scenic designer Sarah E. Ross (“The Tin Woman,” “Chapatti”); lighting designer Emil Boulos (“And Then There Were None,” “Lend Me a Tenor”); costume designer Rachel Lambert (“Lend Me a Tenor”); sound designer Rick Sims (“Dial M for Murder”) and properties designer Amanda Herrmann (“The Tin Woman.”)
“The Hollow” is sponsored by True Essence healing Arts – Margaret and Dale West.
Peninsula Players has been entertaining audiences with performances since July 25, 1935 when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek with Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever.” The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the north woods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting. Peninsula Players moved to the theater’s present location along the shores of Green Bay in 1937.
Prior to performances, patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambiance of the Beer Garden and other gardens.
The Fisher’s dream lives on. Professional actors, directors and designers work side-by-side with college interns, live on the Players 16-acre campus and bring audiences a variety of works including Broadway-quality dramas, mysteries, comedies and musicals.
Agatha Christie’s “The Hollow” performs Tuesday through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.; except Sunday, July 24 at 4 p.m. Individual ticket prices range from $37 to $43 with discounts for groups of 15 or more. There are no performances on Mondays. A post-show discussion will be held Thursday, July 14; a pre-show seminar Saturday, July 23 with Agatha Christie expert Dr. Chris Chan; and a backstage tour Sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players Box Office at (920) 868-3287 or visit its website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.