EXCLUSIVE: Following Tour, Agatha Christie BBC Murders Expected to Arrive on Broadway in 2011

News   EXCLUSIVE: Following Tour, Agatha Christie BBC Murders Expected to Arrive on Broadway in 2011
Producer Zev Buffman, who was most recently represented on Broadway as a co-producer of Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury, told Playbill.com April 16 that he will produce a national tour of The Agatha Christie BBC Murders prior to the show's arrival on Broadway in spring 2011.

Producer Zev Buffman
Producer Zev Buffman

The Agatha Christie BBC Murders comprises four lost Agatha Christie radio plays: "Butter in a Lordly Dish," "Three Blind Mice" (a short radio play on which The Mousetrap was based), "Personal Call" and "Yellow Iris"; the latter features seven musical numbers penned by Tony winner Rupert Holmes. These radio plays debuted at the 2009 International Mystery Writers' Festival in Owensboro, KY.

"In August of last year," Buffman told Playbill.com, "we cobbled together [these] four lost Agatha Christie BBC Radio plays. We found them literally in archives at the BBC Museum. . . . We dusted them up, got the rights to do them, and then did not do them as radio plays. We did them in combination — using radio techniques but deploying full proscenium theatre staging, blocking, costumes, sets. . . . It was an enormous success. We had a lot of people from New York, including tour bookers, colleagues, producers."

Buffman said a short tour will begin in the fall in Tacoma, WA, prior to a Broadway arrival in spring 2011. "The bookings are still taking place . . . but the end result would be to arrive in a theatre hopefully the size of the Helen Hayes or the Golden or the Booth or the Cort." David Ossman, who directed in Kentucky, will direct the tour, and Buffman is currently in talks with The 39 Steps' Maria Aitken, among others, to direct the Broadway bow.

"In the play," Buffman explained, "there's an added character. . . . With permission from the Agatha Christie Estate, we have written the largest role of all as Agatha Christie herself, who narrates and tells us the history of each piece, why she wrote it, what motivated her, when she wrote it, and her thoughts about it. That character begins to also play some parts in the plays as we go on from one to another to another — trying to really bring life to the piece by tying all four one-act plays together with a narrator/storyteller, who is actually using authorized, right-out-of-her-biography words, from the mouth of Agatha Christie. It really cemented the piece beautifully."

It's a busy time for Buffman, who will also receive the Raven Award at the 2010 Edgar Awards, which will be held April 29 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan. Buffman said the award is "one given almost every year to people who are not actually writers but do contribute greatly to the cause of mystery writing. . . . It is given for a variety of reasons, in our case the creation of the International Mystery Writer's Festival in Owensboro, KY." Previous recipients of the award include Angela Lansbury, Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt, among others. For more information visit www.theedgars.com.

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