A highlight of the Millersville theatre season is sure to be University Theatre’s production of “And Then There Were None”, which plays from November 9-12 in the Claire Performance Hall. With a cast of eleven, this production is sure to show audiences the best that Millersville theatre has to offer. University Theatre’s production this year is directed by professor Tony Elliot. It is still early in the rehearsal process, but this diverse group of students are already putting their own stamps on these mysterious characters written by Agatha Christie.
As a murder mystery, “And Then There Were None” has various characters who each have their own share of secrets and quirks. Jacob Dickens, who plays General Mackenzie, has been doing theatre for about a decade, but has never portrayed a clearly older person before. Dickens says that he “really found the physicality with the cane because this character relies on the cane for mobility.” Dickens only got the cane a week ago, as this is early in the rehearsal process. The actors, especially in Dickens case, are literally finding their footing.
Dylan Kranch, who portrays the crotchety butler Rogers, is an actor who has really grown in the last couple of weeks. When Kranch first began the rehearsal process, he envisioned the butler as someone who is respectful no matter the circumstance. Through the last couple of weeks, the play’s director Tony Elliot has shown Kranch that it is okay to not make the character likeable or even loyal. According to Kranch, once given the permission to be “mean, snarky and not like it when others try to do my character’s job, it helped me to find this really dark place in the character.”
Anna Pederson, who plays Dr. Armstrong, is a veteran of the All Campus Musical Organization (ACMO) productions, but has never worked on a University Theatre play before. Pederson says that “having a professor as a director brings a different perspective to the play.” In Kranch’s case, Elliot helped to enhance Kranch’s performance. According to Jonathan Bolds, who plays Detective William Henry Blore, “Even when you think you are doing well at something, Tony Elliot always finds a way to make your performance better.” A strong director at the helm is extremely vital for any production.
In the next couple of weeks, many creative elements including props, costumes, set pieces and even music will be added. Every small detail including the music will help the actors become more immersed in the world of the play. Dickens and Kranch both said that the staircase set piece and even the costumes will help them get into their characters. As of now, the cast is working with an imaginary staircase, and the physical set piece will help the cast get stronger in their roles and environment. It is a truly thrilling process to see a production come together before your eyes. With each new creative element, the overall production becomes more polished and realized. Even now Kranch says that, “I am discovering new things about my character every day.” Even with all the lavish creative elements that will be coming in, the goal of the production according to Dickens is to “always keep the audience guessing about the mystery.” This production, although still a month away, is already shaping up to be a killer evening of theatre that students and the Millersville community will not want to miss.