Destiny and doom are on deck in the Agatha Christie murder mystery "And Then There Were None," opening Friday on the York Little Theatre stage.
Ten guilty strangers are trapped on an island in Christie's best-selling whodunit. One by one they are accused of murder - one by one they start to die as statuettes of little soldier boys on the mantel fall to the floor and break. A mysterious voice accuses each of having gotten away with murder before one guest drops dead, poisoned. Each guest holds a secret - and secrets are deadly in this thriller.
Intimate show: First-time director Ken Bruggeman said the theatre's intimacy lends itself well to the show. The events of the play are presented in-the-round, with the audience surrounding the stage.
"For the audience, it's going to be a really awesome experience," Bruggeman said. "You've got the mystery aspect, which is a lot of fun to follow and figure out, but there's also this dry, subtle English humor that adds so much fun to the show."
The cast includes Jeff Sneeringer as Thomas Rogers; Claudia Shanaman as his wife, Mrs. Rogers; Bob Haag as Sir Lawrence Wargrave; Joel Persing as General MacKenzie; Mike McGuinness as Anthony Marston; Rebecca Schrom as Vera Claythorne; Andrew D'Agenais as Fred Narracott; Rick Osborn as William Blore; Ryan Szwajaas as Philip Lombard; Jaci Keagy as Emily Brent; and David Kloser as Dr. Armstrong.
Characters: Bruggeman said one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show is the characters. He said each actor plays such a big character on the stage, and with the audience seated around the characters it's possible to see the show more than once from a different angle and have an entirely different experience.
"There's so many angles, and so many nuances to each character," Bruggeman said. "You can see something that's a different interpretation of the same play just moving from one seat to another."
Best-seller: Originally published in 1939, the novel - loosely based on a British nursery rhyme - was adapted for the stage by Christie herself, and later made into several films and also adapted for radio. Its popularity has persisted over the years, making it one of the best-selling mysteries of all time according to the Agatha Christie Foundation.
Bruggeman, however, hasn't seen the adaptations. A photographer and graphic artist with a background performing in theater for more than 15 years, he said he wanted a fresh interpretation of the script based only on his vision after reading it.
"Having such a visual background has made it easy for me to have this vision of the play, and then I have this wonderful cast and crew that can really execute that vision well," Bruggeman said.
The play is the second time York Little Theatre has presented Christie's superlative mystery. The theatre staged a similar adaptation, "Ten Little Indians," 15 years ago, Bruggeman said. One cast member, Haag, is returning in his role as Wargrave, the commanding judge.
"He's having a lot of fun playing the same role and exploring developing that character a little more," Bruggeman said. "He's said it's interesting to see how different the two shows are."
Put on your detective hat
Discover the diabolical avenger in "And Then There Were None" in the studio Jan. 17-19 and 23-26, at the York Little Theatre, 27 S. Belmont St., York.
Performances are held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets: $25 adults, $23 seniors (62+), $20 students (13+), $12 children (12 and under). $1 of each ticket will be designated to the Building Preservation Fund. Information: 717-854-5715 or www.ylt.org.