The festival includes plays, radio-style presentations, concerts, film events and meet-and-greets with internationally-famous mystery and thriller writers.
Two of the IMWF's flagship productions are the American premiere of the "lost" Agatha Christie play, Chimneys, and the world premiere of the new Sherlock Holmes play, The Final Toast by Stuart Kaminsky.
Tony Award winner Brian Bedford (a veteran of Canada's Stratford Festival who won his Best Actor Tony in 1971 for The School for Wives) directs Chimneys. Mark Bellamy, artistic director of the mystery theatre Vertigo Theatre, in Calgary, Alberta, directs The Final Toast. Both productions are at RiverPark's Cannon Hall.
The new plays The Last Appointment by Donald C. Drake and Cell by Judy Klass will be presented in the festival, outside of RiverPark, by Theatre Workshop of Owensboro at Trinity Centre.
* More than 400 people auditioned in Owensboro, Louisville and Chicago in hopes of landing roles in the plays.
Festival producer Zev Buffman said in a statement, "We are thrilled with the amount of talent that has been discovered for these two classic works. We have selected a very capable and versatile cast whose credits are as impressive as the legendary characters they will portray."
Chimneys is a thriller lost for nearly 70 years before a Canadian theatre director uncovered it and returned it to the Christie family. The Christie Family Estate "has graciously agreed that the 2008 International Mystery Writers' Festival is the perfect setting to rediscover the classic mystery that combines royal intrigue, blackmail, murder and a dash of romance," according to the festival.
The cast of Chimneys includes Chris Sullivan (Goodman's The Ballad of Emmett Till), Larry Yando (Scar in Disney's national tour of The Lion King), John Librizzi (who played detective Mickey Ryan in Ed McBain's Final Curtain during the 2007 International Mystery Writers' Festival), John Lister (The Crucible at Steppenwolf), Leslie Bevan (About Face Theatre's Winesburg, Ohio and Wedding Play) and (in the role of the "dashing hero and romantic lead") Tim Gregory (the founder of Provision Theater Company in Chicago).
In The Final Toast, by Edgar Award-winning author Kaminsky, Arthur Conan Doyle's "great detective Sherlock Holmes [is involved in] a clever new plot where Holmes unravels a murder only to find himself a new target of the murderer," according to festival notes. "With the help of his faithful friend, Dr. Watson and an 11-year-old dancing street urchin called Charles Chaplin; Sherlock Holmes uses his masterful deduction to make a complex situation seem simply elementary."
The cast includes Raymond L. Chapman (a veteran of many Chicago and American regional productions) as Sherlock Holmes; Mick Weber (another respected Chicago veteran) as Mycroft; Chicagoan Sean Cooper as March; and busy regional actor Mark McCarthy as Dr. Watson.
Ticket prices range from $9.95-$29.95 or $49.50. The 2008 International Mystery Writers' Festival also includes works by Ray Bradbury, Rupert Holmes and Mary Higgins Clark. Clark will participate in the festival and receive the First Lady of Mystery Award. Radio drama-style presentations of new plays will also be presented.
For more information about the Festival or to reserve tickets, log on to www.newmyesteries.org.
RiverPark Center "is a first-class regional entertainment complex. Six professional, international touring musical productions have been built here, making Owensboro, KY, one of the top five communities outside New York City for building and premiering these shows prior to their U.S. or Asian tours."