The opening night of “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” at Richmond Community Theatre brought a large crowd to the venue on East Washington Street in Rockingham, and the show nearly sold out, according to Director Shelly Walker.
Wimbledon tennis star Tony Wendice married his wife Margot for money, as the story goes. After discovering his wife’s affair with American TV murder mystery writer Max Halliday, Tony planned his wife’s murder wanting revenge and Margot’s money. But the hired murderer was murdered by Margot.
There’s mystery and drama in “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” by Frederick Knott. Will Margot be convicted? Or will Scotland Yard discover the truth and free Margot in this British thriller? A suspense lover’s feast, the play runs Feb. 1 - 3 and Feb. 7 - 9.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances are at 8 p.m. The Sunday, Feb. 3 performance will be at 2 p.m. Single tickets are $10. The box office is open through Feb. 9. Box office hours are 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Call 910-997-3765 for tickets and reservations.
In the cast, Bill Cleveland plays the lead role of Tony Wendice. His ease on the stage comes from the experience of 10 different productions at RCT, including his role as a haunted man in “Woman in Black” and Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” Cleveland is a local dentist. You will recognize him by his lilting British accent and sharp facial expressions.
“I’m very grateful to Bill Cleveland,” said Walker. “It happens that an actor who is cast in a show has a life experience that calls him away. He would have been a phenomenal Tony, but Bill stepped in at the last minute to take on the lead role with only three weeks to go.”
Margot Wendice is played by Darla McGuire. McGuire, a Richmond County special education teacher at Roberdel Children’s Center, was last seen on stage in “What is Susan’s Secret?” On stage, McGuire draws you in with personable gestures and likable expressions.
Cleve Baxley is the American boyfriend, Max Halliday. He plays a murder mystery writer, and enjoys reading murder mysteries in real life as well. At first he seems shy and almost out of place in the story, but by the end of the play he will surprise the audience with his intuitive knack for murder mysteries.
Scotland Yard detective Inspector Hubbard is played by Wayne Webb, a veteran of RCT who has played many roles both on stage and behind the scenes. A pushy character, you often wonder whose side he’s on.
The hired murderer, Captain Lesgate, is played by Charles Deaver Jr. In Deaver’s first role at RCT, he seemed like a natural on stage, and fits the role well.
Filling out the cast playing various roles from police officers to lawyers, reporters, swindlers and announcers are Jerry Andrews, Amber Crowe, Theressa Smith, Krystal-Ann West and Walt Wood Sr.
According to season ticket holder Neal Cadieu, many members of the audience had good things to say while leaving the show.
“I thought it was terrific,” said Cadieu. “I think it was largely due to Doctor Cleveland but I think the entire crew did well. I was very impressed with the stage sets and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dial M on stage, so having the police station and radio announcer off to the side was great. Those two hours and ten minutes went by fast and was very entertaining.”
Cadieu said he has been a season ticket holder and sponsor of the theatre since it opened 35 years ago.
“I attended the first play as a season ticket holder and have been one ever since,” he said. “I have seen a few other murder mysteries there, but it seems like we have more comedies. I was impressed with the number of people saying good things as I walked out. It all seemed to just come together.”
“I was very pleased,” said Walker about opening night. “I think the cast is doing a phenomenal job. Not only is it a complicated play as far as tech goes, but it’s a very difficult play in terms of acting.”
“We heard a lot of wonderful things (at the reception), that people loved the show and I even had a long-time theatre goer say it was the best show she’d ever seen at Richmond Community Theatre. It was lovely hearing that,” Walker said.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.