Castle Craig Players, Meriden's community theatre group that's been bringing quality performances to the Silver City for 20 years, is staging Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, "Dial M For Murder."
Troupe founder Warren M. Stephan, 91, passed away in mid-September. He helped with designing the set of this current show and his memory is front and center in the cast's minds, says longtime friend and Castle Craig actor and director Mark Laucella.
Meriden Patch offers this question and answer session with Laucella in advance of next weekend's launch of Dial M. for Murder.Meriden Patch: Warren's death must have profoundly affected the players and as he was involved up until the day he was hospitalized, I imagine his influence is part of the production. Is going "on with the show" something he would have expected?
Mark Laucella: Warren absolutely expects that the "show goes on." Being an entertainer was Warren and he fully understood that no matter what happens, the show must always go on.
MP: How are the cast carrying on in his absence?
ML: The cast of this production plans on dedicating their performances to Warren and have every expectation of making him very proud. Although rehearsals formally started just at the time Warren became ill and the bond between Warren and the cast really didn't have the opportunity to gel, he knew who was in the cast and was very confident to know that a great production would happen.
MP: Is this the first time you've staged "Dial M" or a Hitchcock production?
Yes, this is our first time with this classic murder mystery. (off the record, I don't know if this is the first Hitchcock production. I don't go back to the start, but my assumption is yes).
ML: How was/why was the play chosen?
This, as in almost every production decision, is made by a core group of people at The Castle Craig Players. We banter show ideas around for the season, which includes our summer musical, spring musical, fall play, holiday show and our winter murder mystery dinner theater experience. Sometimes, as is in this case, our director John Kenney, brought this show to the table. We all saw this as a great opportunity to once again bring a classic show to our theater and to stretch our cast members talents and skills as actors.
MP: What are some of the challenges the cast has faced in working on this staging?
ML: The biggest obstacle that our cast has faced with this production is the delays in set design and construction that have occurred since Warren's passing, but as noted before, the show will go on and with the help of many people, we will get the set built, get the props and costumes needed with plenty of time for the cast to feel comfortable with their performance.
MP: What spin are the Castle Craig Players putting on this thriller?
ML: Actually, we are running this show true to form, meaning the only changes that may occur are due to working within our space. The Castle Craig Players have a firm belief in only making changes to a show, classic or not, only when and where needed. Who are we to modify a classic, right?
Shows are Oct. 11-12, 18-19 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. at The Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, 59 West Main Street, Meriden. Tickets, $15, are available by calling (203) 634-6922 or emailing email@example.com.