Four Rare Agatha Christie Radio Plays Will Surface at 2009 Mystery Festival in Kentucky

News   Four Rare Agatha Christie Radio Plays Will Surface at 2009 Mystery Festival in Kentucky
After the poor economy threatened a 2009 appearance of the International Mystery Writers' Festival in Owensboro, KY, the third annual event will indeed materialize, producer Zev Buffman announced on May 1. The late Agatha Christie is the centerpiece writer this year.

A previous announcement of the suspension of the fest until 2010 no longer holds. The 2009 festival primarily devoted to mystery, thriller and crime plays will run Aug. 11-16 at RiverPark Center in the Ohio River town.

Broadway producer Buffman (Elizabeth Taylor's Broadway debut in The Little Foxes) is president and CEO of RiverPark Center, where many Broadway tours have teched and rehearsed prior to playing other markets. The annual mystery fest was Buffman's idea, and in the past two years major mystery writers have made the trip to Owensboro.

The 2009 festival will premiere four Agatha Christie classic mysteries in a radio-theatre format. The shows will be presented as two double-bills during the course of the festival.

In 2010, fully-staged mysteries are expected to return to the festival stages.

The four exclusive Christie works are Three Blind Mice, Yellow Iris, Butter in a Lordly Dish and Personal Call. Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson, said in a statement, "I'm delighted that Zev's team are putting on my grandmother's wonderful BBC plays which number among some of her best works. I'm sure that the USA live audience will enjoy them enormously."

Here's a look at the Christie plays being produced in 2009:

  • Three Blind Mice "was part of a May 30, 1947, evening of program 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 longest running play, The Mousetrap was inspired by Three Blind Mice."
  • 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, Douglas Moodie, interspersed the action with the performances of the cabaret artists who were supposedly on the bill at the restaurant. It features the famous Belgian Inspector Hercule Poirot, one of Christie's audience's favorite detectives."
  • Butter in a Lordly Dish "was first performed on the BBC on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1948 in a strand 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. (This work has never been published)."
  • Personal Call, "was presented on the 'BBC Light Program' on Monday, May 31, 1954. The play reuses the legendary character of Inspector Narracott from the 1931 novel 'The Sittaford Mystery.' (This work was never been published.)" The producer-director team of these classic works will be International Mystery Writers' Festival veterans and Grammy Award winners David Ossman and Judith Walcut.

    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, star of TV's "Murder, She Wrote," and first recipient of the prize.

    This year's recipient of the festival's First Lady of Mystery Award is acclaimed Kentucky novelist Sue Grafton. An invitation went out to the state's First Lady Jane Beshear to repeat the honor of the presenter. Grafton was also this year's Grand Master Winner of the Mystery Writers of America in New York City.

    The International Mystery Writers' festival has been heavily supported by the State of Kentucky since its inception, according to the organizers.

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    RiverPark Center has nearly 100,000 square feet including a 1,479-seat auditorium (Cannon Hall), the 300-seat multi-purpose Experimental Theater, an outdoor entertainment patio on the banks of the Ohio River, meeting rooms, and a bricked center courtyard.

    Resident groups include the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra and Owensboro Dance Theatre.

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