Century Church Theatre To stage Deathtrap

February 23, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Century Church Theatre in Hillsburgh is back with a thriller/comedy. Deathtrap by Ira Levin, opens for the first of three Sunday matinees on March 5 and running over the following two weekends. Evening performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and matinees on the Sundays at 2:30 pm. Last show is February 19, the Sunday matinee.

Everything we love about the genre, Deathtrap is a fine wash of threats and counter-threats and counter those ones too. In this story set in 1970, Sidney Bruhl is a well-weathered playwright of murder thrillers who has hit a dry spell – has bumped well and truly into a time of writer’s block. Rescue it seems, has arrived by mail in the form of a draft play that is the very thing needed – yet not Sidney’s work but the shockingly well penned piece by a younger man, Clifford Anderson, who attended a seminar Sidney led months ago.

After a debate between Sidney and his wife, Myra, on the matter of proposed theft of the new script and possible disposal of the young playwright, the fun begins and who knows where it will end. Not the audience for sure, as they are pushed and prodded by this very entertaining and clever show.

Helga ten Dorp, a neighbourhood psychic, drops in to stir the mix and when Clifford arrives, having accepted Sidney’s invitation to come for the two of them to “tighten the plot -” well, come and see for yourselves.

“It’s really an interesting 1970 play – washed- up writer’s space with writer’s block meets a young man who has written a good play and plans to steal his work,” said Erin Montgomery, media person for Century Church Theatre, and producer and Stage Manager for this performance. “Greg [Allen as Clifford] is great to watch and Keith [Assoun in the role of Sidney] is older and they get along so well. Angie [Sapalovski as Myra Bruhl] plays an older person who is not dumb and Nick [Farrow, playing Porter Milgrim] has acted before a number of times on this stage.

There are nice coincidences within the cast and director too, that add an interesting background note.

Carol McCone Day performing the eccentric psychic, Helga ten Dorp with a Dutch accent has done this play before. Brigida Scholten as Director has played the role of Helga in a previous production elsewhere, offering rich dynamics for the Helga role.

Ms. Montgomery went on to tell the Citizen that rehearsals are going really well. This cast is “well seasoned and Brigida is a creative director.”

Century Church Theatre usually stages a thriller at this time of year… “to get everybody’s blood boiling” adding, “We’re nothing without our volunteers. They are wonderful for taking the time to make it all happen.”

Ms. Montgomery was excited to say, “We found this amazing local artist, Nancy Dale, who has created this wonderful piece for our set. She’s spent hours and hours doing it. When the audience comes in,” she assured us, “they will be wowed. We’re so lucky to have her in our family, working with us for the first time. A show is nothing without the artists. We are lucky to have painters and costume makers and we are so lucky to have all our volunteers.”

Robert Bell is back to do the lighting for Deathtrap and Ms. Scholten’s husband, Ernest has provided the production “with some eery, really tense music,” Ms. Montgomery calls it.

Full attention has been given to the “definitely 1970’s true fashion.”

Members of Century Church Theatre were very sad to announce the passing of co-founder Jo Phenix late in 2022. Together with her husband, Neville Worsnop, they founded the Erin Arts Foundation Inc. and the Century Theatre Guild, based at the Century Church Theatre.

Said Erin Montgomery, “Jo mentored both me and Brigida for many years. Makes this production all that much more special that we get to work together. All of us miss her – she had the answer to everything and she could build anything and could always find the the right prop.”

Perhaps a tad reluctant to admit the possibility of a ghost, Ms. Montgomery did admit, “You can feel it in the theatre. Whenever I get stuck, I think ‘come on, Jo’ and the idea comes.”

From the announcement of Jo Phenix’s death on the theatre website in part: “Her organization, concentration, inventiveness, and most of all her sense of humour, will be missed by all who knew and loved her. She was fond of joking with her theatre friends by saying “Team Effort – a lot of people doing what I say”.

Jo Phenix knew how to bring out the best in everyone; she possessed special insight. She was a teacher, seeing the gift in everybody which she would mentor and mould. “She gave enough rope, never screaming, the calm centre. All these years later this theatre is thriving; she loved the theatre,” Ms. Montgomery praised her.

Erin Montgomery has been with Century Church Theatre for 11 years. As SM for this production, saying humorously, “Putting all the pieces together, a paranoid control freak makes a very good stage manager.” 

The enticement to come and see Deathtrap is offered: “If you like thrillers and great talent, beautiful sets and you want to be entertained by the strange or mysterious, this is the show. Half the actors are theatre award winners.”

She said, “This is what Jo would do.”

This production of Deathtrap is dedicated to Jo Phenix.

Still mindful of Covid, masks are suggested while attending the show. For the time being, the concession in the theatre is not open; bringing water is permitted.

For all the times and details and to purchase tickets, call the Box Office from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week at (519) 855-4586, with VISA or Mastercard. E-Transfer payment also accepted.

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