by Agatha Christie
|Dame Agatha Christie's "Death
On The Nile" has to be one of the two or three most famous murder
mysteries every written, perhaps eclipsed only by her own "Murder
On The Orient Express" and "Ten Little Indians." "Death On
The Nile" has not only been in constant print since it was written
in 1937, it was made into an epic star-studded block buster film, and more
recently into a more accurate and beautifully rendered feature film for
On stage, it was a different matter altogether. Quite frankly, Dame Agatha was sick to death of Hercule Poirot! She felt trapped and eclipsed by her own creation, similar to the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle felt about his celebrated sleuth. So, when she wrote a stage adaptation of her novel, she not only removed Poirot from the story, she also stripped the exotic tale of most of its style and charm.
And let's face it. Style is what Agatha Christie is all about. Perhaps aware that the play was second rate, she changed the name to "Murder On The Nile." After a respectable run, it pretty much sank into history. Without Poirot, there was no charm, no style, no elan!
Dale Gutzman at Off the Wall Theatre brought to the stage a new adaptation of the novel, adhering much more closely to the characters and feel of the book. And yes, there in all of his diminutive, arrogant brilliant grandeur was Hercule Poirot, played by Karl Miller.
Miller brought to Poirot the same immaculate attention to detail that allowed him in the past to create such memorable Off The Wall roles as Adolf Hitler (Scenes Of Love And Death In The Third Reich) and Otto Kringelein (Grand Hotel.)
Miller was surrounded by a cast of fifteen, creating such diverse characters as an alcoholic novelist, a communist sympathizer, a German Doctor, An American Heiress, a shady lawyer, and a jealous debutante who had threatened to kill here rival in love. All set in the salon of a Nile cruise ship, to the tunes of Cole Porter!
Joining Miller on stage was June O'Keefe, once the brightest light on Milwaukee's Theatre stage, returning to the boards for the first time in fifteen years. She was joined by Off The Wall favorite Mary Henricksen. Liz Mistile who played Ophelia earlier paired up once again with her leading man from that production, Jeremy Welter. The cast also included, Kristin Pagenkopf, Natasha Mortazavi, David Roper, Lawrence Lukasavage, Kurtis Witzlsteiner, Thomas Welcenbach, Ellen Heib, David Kaye, Heidi Woehlck, and Michael Davis.
Typical of Christie masterpieces, murder most foul destroys the lyrical ambience of an exotic Egyptian cruise, but wait, not everyone is whom they claim to be, and nothing is as it seems! Only the eccentric Hercule Poirot can unravel the mystery in the last few minutes of the drama.