Although the exact date of its conception is unknown, recent research shows a paper trail for the Chilliwack Players Guild (CPG) leading back to the early 1930s. This means for nearly a century now, the CPG has been a hub for people with a certain dramatic flair to converge and create stunning performances that take local audiences on fanciful flights through time and space.
And their most recent project will have audiences on the edge of their seats.
Back in June the Guild held public auditions over the course of two days, and director Ken Fynn was able to cast more than a dozen characters to bring to life the characters of one of the greatest mystery writers in literary history to present Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile.
“It’s Agatha Christie, so obviously you think somebody’s going to die, they might,” said Fynn with a smile. “In this (show) we have romance, we have a little murder, and comedy—an Agatha Christie with comedy!—and a cast of 13 wonderful people.”
Running from November 22 to December 2, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile is set in the 1940s on an Egyptian paddle wheeler, and follows beautiful and rich Kay Ridgeway as she embarks on her honeymoon. But when tragedy strikes on the luxurious and idyllic cruise boat, the passengers—all with a reason to kill—are left under scrutiny.
“What we want is to have (audiences) guessing all the way through, ‘Who done it?’” said Fynn prior to a rehearsal. “And hopefully I’ve been able to do that—the idea is to bring the audience along on the trip and fool them a little bit.”
“I think the audience is going to be shocked,” said Laura Kehler, who portrays Louise, a french maid who knows what she wants and how to get it.
“You think you know how it’s going to happen and then you go oh!” she continued. “(Audiences will) engross themselves in the story and as the secrets and whatnot are revealed, by the end they’ll (figure it out).”
But what really brings the suspense to life, says the cast, is the interpersonal connections that were created amongst them both on and off stage.
“Everybody (involved), it’s just been one big family and it’s been great,” said Kehler. “Again, it’s about the relationships we built off stage, not necessesarily on stage. And working with Ken has been fantastic, he’s drawn out so much more out of me than I thought possible.”
“The opportunity to be part of this (is) really exciting,” said Glenn Howard, who’s preparing for his debut on the Guild’s stage.
“The Chilliwack Players Guild has a good reputation of having great cast members, so while my role isn’t the largest, it’s an opportunity to see some really skilled actors and be part of that,” continued Howard, who’s been cast as the Steward.
”I really enjoy being able to do something that connects with people (and) I love creating that escape from reality so (audiences) can enjoy it. To be part of that, to entertain, that’s what gives me the energy to come out (here because) we’re just here to tell that story in a way that brings it to life.”
“There’s so many things about this production that I love,” said Fynn. “The dedication of the actors, the set building … and the storyline.”
To Chilliwack Players Guild will be presenting Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile at the Cultural Centre. Tickets are $25, or $20 for students and seniors, and an be purchased at ChilliwackCulturalCentre.ca. In addition to the regular shows, the Guild will also be presenting a two-for-one preview night on Nov. 22, and 2:00 p.m. matinees on Nov. 25, Dec. 1, and Dec. 2.
To learn more about the Guild, please visit their website at PlayersGuild.ca.