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Coach House Theatre serves up a suspenseful, fun show with this year's annual murder mystery, "Black Coffee," by Agatha Christie, directed by Andrew Cruse, which opened Jan. 24 and plays through Feb. 17.
The play, Christie's first play, features the famous mystery writer's Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, played by Ross Rhodes. In the story, Sir Claud Amory (played by Timothy H. Champion), a wealthy inventor, has drafted a plan for a highly destructive weapon. However, during the evening those plans get stolen, so Amory has his butler Tredwell (played by Henry C. Bishop) lock up the manor and confine all of those suspected of the theft to one room. However, the theft turns into a murder case when Amory dies of poisoning. Poirot is called in, along with Captain Hastings (played by Jim Fippin) to solve the case.
There are many suspects. Claud's son Richard (played by Derrick Winger) is tired of living under the thumb of his father and in need of money. Richard's wife Lucia has many secrets of her own, including her connection with Dr. Carelli (played by Mark Stoffer), who just happened to conveniently show up that evening. (Lucia is played by Holly Humes through Feb. 3, then by Melanie Korman Roddy from Feb. 7 through 17). There's Claud's assistant Edward Raynor (played by Daniel Rylander). There's Claud's sister Caroline (played by Karen Wood), who seems devoted and loyal to her brother. There's Barbara Armory (played by Tess Burgler), who makes no pretense of her disdain for the late inventor, and never hesitates to speak her mind.
Rounding out the cast are Alfred Anderson, who plays Dr. Graham, the family physician, Michael Cranston, who plays Inspector Japp, and Ed Conrad, who plays Constable Johnson.
The play seemed to be a hit with the Jan. 26 audience.
"I really enjoyed the twists, how they passed around who the murderer could have been," said Igor Vinograd of Akron. "Also, the set was phenomenal."
Ticket and show information
Curtain times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Dinner or brunch is available to all theatre patrons prior to every performance at the Akron Woman's City Club next door. (Reservations are required.)
Tickets are $18, with $12 student tickets available to all performances (space available). The box office opens one hour before the show. Group rates are available.
Coach House Theatre is at 732 W. Exchange Street, in Akron, next to the Akron Woman's City Club, and at the corner of W. Exchange and N. Portage Path. Reservations are available through our box office at 330-434-7741, or online at www.coachhousetheatre.com.
Next on stage
Coach House will next produce "Sea Marks" by Gardner McKay from March 14 through April 7.
The theater also will give a staged reading of "Grace and Glorie" by Tom Ziegler as part of its Elder Theatre series on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. This reading is free but reservations are required. Call the box office for reservations.