Agatha Christie Radio Plays Get U.S. Premiere at KY Mystery Festival Dawning Aug. 12

News   Agatha Christie Radio Plays Get U.S. Premiere at KY Mystery Festival Dawning Aug. 12
The 2009 International Mystery Writers' Festival presents four American-premiere radio-theatre productions of Agatha Christie works Aug. 12-15 in Owensboro, KY.

The five-day festival (to Aug. 16) includes many other events featuring luminaries from the world of crime and mystery fiction — from stage to screen to publishing to films. has learned that commercial theatre producers are traveling to Kentucky for the week to scope out the possibility of giving the Christie plays a wider life in a unique, conceptual radio-theatre setting. Gary Sandy ("WKRP in Cincinnati") is among performers in the radio troupe.

The plays will be recorded live for local radio broadcast, but will later be mixed and sweetened for wider national radio syndication.

NPR affiliate WNIN in Evansville, IN, across the Ohio River, began broadcasting recordings of new thrillers in July and will air the rare Agatha Christie radio plays, too, in its IMWF/WNIN program, "New Mysteries Galore." The broadcasts that began in July 18 were recordings from the 2008 IMWF.

Airing live on Aug. 15 will be four American-premiere Christie stage classics, performed in front of an audience.

The following titles will be presented Aug. 12-15: "Three Blind Mice" was part of a May 30, 1947, evening in honor of the 80th birthday of Queen Mary. The BBC approached the Queen some months prior and asked for her special favorites. Amongst a selection of music and variety, she requested a new mystery by Agatha Christie, a writer the Queen deeply admired. The world's long-running play The Mousetrap was inspired by Three Blind Mice.

"Butter in a Lordly Dish" was first performed on the BBC on Jan. 13, 1948, in a show entitled "Mystery Playhouse Presents The Detection Club." The play title comes from the Bible: Judges, 5:25: "He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish." "He" refers to Sisera and "she" is Jael.

"Yellow Iris" was first presented on the BBC National Program in 1937. The main part of the story takes place in a London restaurant. The play is unusual in that the producer interspersed the action with the performances of the cabaret artists who were supposedly on the stage at the restaurant during the murder. It features the famous Belgian Inspector Hercule Poirot, one of Christie's audiences' favorite detectives.

"Personal Call," the last thriller, was presented on the "BBC Light Program" on May 31, 1954. The play reuses the legendary character of Inspector Narracott from the 1931 novel "The Sittaford Mystery."

The radio shows' creative team includes Judith Walcutt (producer/director), David Ossman (producer/director), Steve Amos (audio engineer), Debra Babich (actor), Tony Brewer (sound design/Foley), Trevor Day (actor), Richard Fish (actor), Miles Hanson (audio engineer), Jessica Howell (actor), Preston Ossman (actor), Melinda Peterson (actor), Phil Proctor (actor), Todd Reynolds (actor), Gary Sandy (actor), Christopher Scheer (actor), Amy Walker (actor), Amelia White (actor), Steve Wiese (audio recording consultant).


"We are delighted NPR'S WNIN values bringing newly discovered mystery performances to radio audiences," mystery festival producer Zev Buffman said in a statement. "The Live Radio Theatre performances have been such a remarkable hit among our festival audience that we are thrilled we can share the newly discovered mysteries over public radio's airwaves beginning this summer."

Buffman was recently represented on Broadway as a co-producer of Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury. He's been attached to many Broadway shows and tours.

Other events surrounding the festival include classic outdoor movies series, celebrity master classes, writing workshops, guest speakers, meet and greets, book signings and the Aug. 16 Angie Awards, named after Angela Lansbury of TV's "Murder, She Wrote."

The 2009 International Mystery Writers' Festival is also devoted to fully-produced stage plays, which it will address again in 2010.

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Now in its 17th year, RiverPark Center is known for its eclectic programming. Six professional international touring musical productions have been built there, making Owensboro, KY, one of the top five communities outside New York City for building and premiering shows prior to their U.S. or Asian tours.

The nearly 100,000 square-foot facility includes the 1,500-seat Cannon Hall, the 300-seat black-box Jody Berry Cabaret Theatre, the 1,000 capacity outdoor riverfront BB&T Plaza and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

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