The summer murders at Houston's Alley Theatre end Aug. 6 with the closing of Agatha Christie's thriller, Towards Zero, playing since July 21 on the main stage. Actor John Tyson and Alley artistic director Gregory Boyd share the directing duties.
At the death of Lady Tressilian, a group of friends and family gather together to divide up her estate. This event sets off Christie's rarely produced Towards Zero, where a failed suicide attempt, an accusation of theft, and the love life of a famed tennis player complicate the woman's death. Christie is best known for her mystery novels including "Then There Were None," "Death on the Nile" and "Murder on the Orient Express," although her play, The Mousetrap is the longest running theatre production in both London and Toronto.
Several Alley regulars take Towards Zero's mysterious roles including Lillian Evans (Lady Tressilian), new Alley company members James Belcher (Superintendent Battle) and Ty Mayberry (Ted Latimer), Paul Hope (Thomas Royde), Charles Krohn (Mathew Treves) and Elizabeth Heflin (Mary Aldin). Also in the cast are Michael Tisdale (Nevile Strange), Michelle Federer (Audrey Strange) and John Tyson (Inspector Leach).
Designing the show are Kevin Rigdon (sets), Jeanne Button (costumes), Paulie Jenkins (lighting), Malcolm Nicholls (sound) and Randy Ingram (associate set designer). Elizabeth Berther is the stage manager.
Tickets to all Summer Chills productions are $17. The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue. For reservations, call (713) 228-8421. The Alley Theatre is on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.com. *
The first "Summer Chills" production of summer 2000 was Joseph Kesselring's classic murder comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, which ran June 30-July 16 with three performances cancelled including the opening night. Actress Bettye Fitzpatrick suffered a transient ischemic attack (a loss of blood in the brain that can be common among the eldery, but can be a pre-stroke symptom), which caused the loss of performances and ended her run with both Lace and Towards Zero. She was to have played Lady Tressilian in Zero.
-- By Christine Ehren