Macedonia -- Are you a super sleuth? Murder comes to the cafeteria at Nordonia High School and audience members have to figure out "whodunit." The Nordonia High School Drama Club's fall dinner theater production, "And Then There Was One," is a spoof on the Agatha Christie story "And Then There Were None" in which 10 people are invited to a mansion on a remote island by someone they have never met, said Nordonia's Director of Drama Chris Simmons.
"One by one they start dying and there are crazy twists and people come back," he said. "It's really funny and random, and the kids keep finding ways to make it funnier."
Simmons said this show is interactive, beginning before dinner is served, with segments involving the audience during dinner and dessert. "The show will be about a half hour then we will break for dinner, at that time the audience members can interact with the characters as they appear," he explained. "The students don't break character all evening."
Simmons said the format allows audience members to ask questions during the interactive segment, then clues will be dropped during the show so that when the production breaks again for dessert, the audience can place their ballots for who they think the murder is.
Cast member and club secretary, Eliza Sawyers, grade 12, said she loves the character she gets to play in this production.
"I play Delores Biggs, a famous actress who thinks people should bow down to her and she is very elegant," she said.
She added she likes how the cast gets to interact with the audience and how it changes the atmosphere. Sawyers has been a member of the club since her freshman year at Nordonia and this is the seventh production she has acted in. She plans to make theater studies a double major at Kent State University with global communications next year.
Junior Amanda Pace, who plays Amanda Starlett in the play, said her character is a college-age, rich, ditzy girl. She, like Sawyer, enjoys the interactive aspect of the show.
"It's different than what we have done before, different tone, different subject," Pace said. "Usually one person dies and the group has to solve the mystery, but this year multiple people die and the audience has to figure it out."
Pace has also been a member of the drama club since her freshman year and she said she likes the camaraderie of the cast.
"I like how during productions we become like a family and make connections," she said.
Simmons is in his third year as director of drama, but is no stranger to Nordonia theater, he is a 2004 graduate of Nordonia and has been involved in one capacity or another with the drama club since 2001. Prior to becoming the director of the drama club he served as the assistant director.
"I love working with the kids," Simmons said.
Sawyers said Simmons has helped her become a better actor.
"He's helped me develop my acting skills," she said. "I was really shy at first and helped me come to the surface and get over the shyness."
Simmons said he feels he has a really talented cast for the play, which is naturally actor-focused. He explained the murder mystery isn't the spectacle the Spring musical is.
He told the News Leader, this is a lower-key production with the attention solely on the actors.
The show features a cast of 10 students. The cast is comprised of Leslie DeShane, Chris Fujikawa, Megan Garvey, Emily Greenwood, Madison Krempec, Amanda Pace, Eliza Sawyers, Ronnie Simmons, Keyshaun Smith, and Nolan Tater.
Performances are Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. Doors open one hour before each performance. Tickets are $15 for students and seniors and $20 for adults and include dinner, which is being catered by Casa D'Angelo.
Tickets can be reserved by calling 330-908-6199, extension 585323, and leaving a message. Space is limited to just 100 people per performance, and will not be sold at the door.
The club requests audience members to arrive early to inspect raffle prizes and buy raffle tickets to help fund the program.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432