This year Grove City Christian Academy brings to the stage Agatha Christie’s classic story, “Murder on the Nile.” This play provides all the classic Agatha Christie elements from a complex and varied set of characters to a host of red herrings to a satisfying resolution, all set within the colorful and exotic environment of an Egyptian river cruise. At the center of the 1930s story is the famous socialite, Kay Mostyn, who has recently gotten married to Simon, an unknown young Englishman, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. They’re on their honeymoon in Egypt, pursued by Simon’s ex-fiancée, Jackie, who is intent on making their lives as miserable as possible. Also on board the boat, seemingly by accident, is Kay’s guardian, Canon Pennefather, who has in fact showed up to investigate Kay’s new husband and discover if there is any fishy business going on. When murder occurs on board the first night, everyone from Canon Pennefather to Simon to William Smith, the budding communist revolutionary, bustles into activity, seeking to find the killer.
For those who are familiar with Agatha Christie’s work, they may know this play best by its other title, Death on the Nile. She first wrote the story as a novel featuring her well-beloved Belgian detective, Hercules Poirot, and all the movie versions that have been made center on this character. In her stage play version, however, Agatha Christie cut out Poirot, whom she had never liked much to begin with. She replaced him with Canon Pennefather, perhaps hoping for a similar tone to the Father Brown mysteries. This new character is able not only to act as an investigator but also to bring a pastoral kind of care to all the characters, even those whom we discover to be involved in murder. This makes the play much more redemptive than the original story and allows gleams of hope to enter into the dark recesses of the murderous heart. For those who are lovers of Poirot, however, be forewarned that his presence will not grace the stage.
The cast for this play includes some familiar faces from past GCCA productions including Elijah Aldstadt as Canon Pennefather, Dylan Nichols as Kay Mostyn, Lily Hasenplug as Jackie de Severac, Julie Wizorek as Miss Ffoliot-Ffoulkes, Matelyn Jensen as Christina Grant, Mateo Holtz as William Smith, Noah Graeser as Dr. Bessner, and Caleb Hasenplug as Beadseller 1. New to the stage are Levi Brooks as Simon Mostyn, Sam Mitchell as the Steward, Lizzy House as Louise, Koby Richardson as Beadseller 2, and Timothy Kosits as the ship’s captain, McNaught. Mr. Ross Kucks is director, Mrs. Faith Fedor co-director, and Abbi Maffet student director for this
drama, the school’s ninth play.
While Mr. Kucks selected this play particularly because of its Christian undertones and family friendly content, parents should be warned that a murder does take place on stage and that suicide is subtly contemplated by one of the characters. The play deals with deep matters of the heart and may be too heavy for some younger audience members. But we are confident that lovers of Agatha Christie, lovers of mystery plays, and lovers of the theater in general will all love this play!