INNISFAIL – At long last Agatha Christie’s great whodunnit mystery classic is going ahead at the Ol' Moose Hall.
Postponed many times by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new Innisfail Town Theatre (ITT) production of Christie’s And Then There Were None will open before a general audience on Oct. 14, with nine after until a closing performance on Oct. 30.
Patrick Gleason, president of ITT, noted the fall production is ITT’s first since 2019, well before the pandemic began.
“Because of the pandemic this is our third attempt at putting this play on, and we’ve got everything crossed that we can go ahead with this,” he said, noting the challenge has been “unique. “Putting on a play has so many challenges in the first place but then you add (COVID) into it and it's huge, and of course we are committed as much as possible to putting this on because we’ve had this in the books for over a year.”
And Then There Were None is known as the world’s best-selling mystery and crime novel of all time with more than 100 million copies sold. The local ITT production will see Red Deer’s respected theatre man Craig Scott directing.
“The name kind of gives it all away because this is a murder mystery and cast members slowly disappear in nefarious ways,” said Gleason, who plays a secondary role of a retired army general who is “bumped off” quickly. “I guess like any Agatha Christie mystery the fun is trying to figure out the whodunnit, and you obviously know it’s not going to be a happy ending with a whole lot of people surviving, so that is the fun – figuring out, ‘Ok, what is going on here and who did it and who is the ultimate person responsible for this whole saga?”
While the production of the famous Christie story will certainly thrill theatre lovers, it has been a wild and bumpy rollercoaster ride to finally have it ready.
“We have had a cast that was literally off script, like they knew their lines. We were a week away from putting this on when the first pandemic shutdown happened,” said Gleason. “A lot of that cast said, ‘yup, if you can put it on, we’ll be with you’ but so much time has progressed we’ve had people who said, ‘no I can’t do this’ but other people have stepped up. We currently have a full cast and are rehearsing very intensely and we hope we can get this going.”
Gleason said the COVID measures ITT is taking is similar to what other theatre companies and sports organizations are now doing, including checking all incoming citizens for proof of vaccination, and ensuring everyone is wearing a mask when they come inside for each performance.
He said the only time citizens can be unmasked is when they’re dining or having a beverage.
“If they leave their table, they have to have the mask on again,” he said, adding tables will be appropriately socially distanced from one another in the hall that normally seats 120. “That allows us to not go with just one-third of our capacity. We can increase that capacity.”
Gleason said ITT is also ensuring all volunteers and cast members are vaccinated. However, cast members, who are all vaccinated, will not be masked during performances but will exercise social distancing on the stage as best they can.
“Theatre Alberta has encouraged us to be a cohort because we are working together quite a bit of the time and to limit our social interactions during this time of production,” said Gleason.
“We feel the community would just love to see a show and we’d love to put on a show for the community,” he added. “We are going to try everything we can within the guidelines to put this production on.”
The new production will have a General Performance Oct. 14 and the 21, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and the shows starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25.
There will be Brunch Performance on Oct. 24 with doors opening at 11:30 a.m. and the show starting at 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $50.
Dinner Theatre performances are on Oct. 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. with each show starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $50.
Tickets are available at The Leg Man from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 5036 - 50 St. in Innisfail, or by calling 403-227-5966.