As Metro Moncton’s Hubcity Theatre gets ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, the theatre troupe is preparing to end a successful 2016 with the presentation of the Frederick Knott written classic Dial M For Murder.
The story is set in the 1950’s. Retired tennis professional Tony Wendice, played by Cody Bolton, is convinced his wealthy wife Margot – a role being played by Rebecca Rideout – is having an extramarital affair. Seeking revenge, Tony plans what he believes could be the “perfect” murder, before the idea ultimately unravels on him.
Hub City Theatre Artistic Director Paul Power says the troupe’s decision to present Dial M For Murder largely stemmed from the positive reception afforded to the group’s presentation of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap last fall.
“When it comes to the programming for Hub City Theatre, I work to ensure we are presenting a mix of new works along with classics like Dial M For Murder,” Power says. “If anything, the success we saw with last year’s presentation of The Mousetrap was confirmation that, for all the great musicals and other productions that are put on throughout the city, there is also an audience interested in classic murder mysteries.”
Like many things in life, timing is everything and Dial M For Murder is no exception, Power notes.
“The production is so well written that its success relies upon a combination of timing and the subtle placing of objects to move it forward. Where I feel we succeed with this production is in character development; I think each of the actors involved have done a wonderful job ensuring their characters come off as real people.”
Among those also cast in the production is Moncton actor Cyril Johnston, who will be playing the role of police inspector Hubbard. A veteran of prior Hub City Theatre productions, he says his role as the inspector in Dial M For Murder is among the most realistic of characters he has undertaken.
“This role is very different for me, starting with the fact it’s a thriller,” Johnston offers. “In the past, I have played a number of characters that have been larger-than-life, or that I have had to exaggerate on stage, but this role is among the most realistic I have played.”
Asked what challenges he faced in learning and mastering the role of Inspector Hubbard, Johnston says that he strived to lend an air of reality to the somewhat mysterious character.
“The first challenge for me was ensuring Inspector Hubbard was a believable character. Rather than being able to know everything about him right off the bat, he is someone that reveals himself throughout the course of the play. I think that part of the suspense for the audience is trying to understand what the inspector is all about, but it’s not until the end of the play that people really get a solid grasp on what he is about.”
Although Dial M For Murder is arguably best-known among an older demographic, having originally been in theatres in the mid 50’s, Power feels there is a timeless undercurrent running throughout the production that will help the classic appeal to theatre goers of almost any age.
“Whether you are among the generation of folks that remember the original movie and simply want to see it again or if you are seeing the production for the first time, I do feel that it is a timeless classic that can reach across multiple generations.”
If there is one aspect of its productions that Hubcity Theatre has seemingly mastered over the last nine years, it is the group’s success at having reached a diverse range of demographics via its shows.
Nowhere has that success arguably resounded louder than with Roomies, an original production penned by Power that was inspired by the real-life challenges he has faced living with a physical disability. He says that in the time leading up to the writing of the play, he observed there was few, if any, productions that dealt with the topic in such a straight-forward manner.
Since the production was first staged in Moncton this past spring, Roomies was also performed for audiences in St. John’s, Halifax, Saint John, Fredericton and Charlottetown, making for one of Hubcity Theatre’s most extensive tours to date.
“To still be running with a production after almost a year is remarkable. I think it’s a testament to the way Roomies connected with people,” Power says. “We had the opportunity to meet and talk with so many different people that are living with disabilities, either seen or unseen, that thanked us for having integrated a disabled character into a production. That is a gratifying feeling.”
What: Dial M For Murder
When: Thursday Nov. 17 through Saturday Nov. 19 (inclusive), 7:30 p.m. each night
Where: Empress Theatre, Robinson Court, Downtown Moncton
General admission tickets are $25. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca.