It's no mystery why veteran Mid-Ohio Valley Players director Billie Harmon selected an Agatha Christie play for the theater's next performance.
"I just happen to like doing Agatha Christie plays," said Harmon, directing her 17th show. "The sets are always very interesting. ... She keeps you guessing until the last minute."
The Players will debut Christie's "Black Coffee" at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with performances continuing April 30 and May 1, 7 and 8, along with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 2.
Christie plays have drawn people to the theater from as far away as Columbus and Point Pleasant, W.Va., Harmon said.
"For Agatha Christies, you usually get a very good audience," she said.
The play, featuring Christie's famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot, has been out of print for a long time and only recently became available in the U.S. again. Written in the early 1930s, it focuses on Sir Claude Amory, a physicist who has come up with a formula for an atomic bomb.
If you go
What: Mid-Ohio Valley Players present "Black Coffee," an Agatha Christie murder mystery.
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 23, 24 and 30, May 1, 7 and 8; 3 p.m. Sunday, May 2.
Where: Players Theatre, 227 Putnam St., Marietta.
Tickets: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, $5 for youth to age 16.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
or (740) 350-9517.
The formula mysteriously disappears, Harmon said, "and then the next thing you know, Sir Claude is mysteriously dead."
Harmon is directing a veteran cast, with Ray Ryan playing Poirot, Bill Dawkins (in his first appearance on the Players' stage in a while) as Sir Claude and Karen Humphrey, who won the Players' Khalil Award for best actress last year, as Sir Claude's daughter-in-law, Lucia.
The lone newcomer in the 13-member cast is Heather Boomer, playing Barbara, Sir Claude's niece.
Joining Harmon behind the scenes is first-time assistant director Kathy Biery.
"Black Coffee" runs about two hours and has two intermissions. Harmon said it is appropriate for ages 10 and up.
The play is part of the Players' "Dinner and a Show" promotion, where people who purchase show tickets in advance can present them at participating restaurants for a 15 percent discount on their entrees. A list of restaurants is available at www.midohiovalleyplayers.org .