‘Something’s Afoot’ at Swift Creek Mill Theatre
“I still screamed,” recalls Jones with a laugh. “When I screamed, she burst out laughing, so I guess it worked.”
A mixture of laughs and chills is exactly what “Something’s Afoot” aims for. A spoof of Agatha Christie mysteries – and her novel “And Then There Were None” specifically – the musical is set at a remote English country estate. One by one, the characters are relegated to pushing up daisies through a range of murderous means. When the play returns to the stage at Swift Creek Mill Theatre on March 9, Jones will have moved from the audience to the stage. The show’s protagonist is amateur detective Miss Tweed, a Miss Marple-type played by Jones. When Swift Creek first performed the show in 1992, it starred Betty Ann Grove, an actress who had originated the role of Lois Lane/Bianca in “Kiss Me, Kate” on Broadway, and appeared in the original productions of “George M!” and “I Remember Mama.” “She was a very well-known lady,” says director and set designer Tom Width. “We’ve dedicated the show to her, 25 years later.”
Other characters in the show might be at home in a game of “Clue,” including a doctor, a colonel who fought in India, a saucy maid and a fussy butler. Local actress Joy Williams plays the grande dame Lady Manley-Prowe.
“She is a lady of prominence, but she’s fallen on hard times and [is] trying to maintain her financial appearance, her place in society,” Williams says.
The musical’s characters meet their maker through electrocution, gas, poison, falling wall hangings and a shrunken head that shoots darts, among other methods. Width’s favorite murder involves a flowerpot that swallows a character head first.
“The audience applauded for it every night when we did it before,” Width says.
Jones notes that Width’s skill with stagecraft and special effects are on full display in this show, particularly with the murders.
“They’re all just hilarious and unexpected and silly,” says Jones of the murders. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s great music, a funny cast, and light-hearted.”
Williams says the spoof is filled with exaggerated melodrama.
“If you’re looking for an unabashedly fun-filled night where you can just sit back and laugh a lot, see a lot of fun dancing, this would be the show for you,” Williams says.
“Something’s Afoot” plays March 9-May 6 at Swift Creek Mill Theatre, 17401 Jefferson Davis Highway, 23834. For more information, visit swiftcreekmill.com or call 748-5203. ¦