Tangled Web Woven

Tangled Web Woven

Murder is the mystery in ACO whodunit


Evan Crawford, director of the upcoming production of “A Murder Is Announced” at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, is very familiar with author Agatha Christie and the tangled webs her novels-turned-plays weave.

“I grew up hearing, reading and seeing Agatha Christie stories,” she says. “I enjoy the intricate details, colorful characters and twists and turns she includes as well as the variety of locations, experiences and motives her stories develop.”

In fact, her first big role at ACO was in a 1995 production of “Ten Little Indians,” and her husband, Roger, was an actor in the 2009 ACO production of “A Murder is Announced.” He is also serving as the set designer for the current production.

“I think the biggest challenge for a director of any play at the ACO is to continue fostering an environment of community, family and excellence in storytelling,” says Crawford. “These community elements brought me to the ACO as a teenager, and I now have the opportunity to give back in the same way.”

Though Crawford has been acting at the ACO for nearly three decades now, she’s become equally valued by the company as a director. She last helmed “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday” in 2017 and “Driving Miss Daisy” in 2018 — both character-driven, slice-of-life dramadies. She says she finds many similarities between these plays and Christie’s whodunit.

“Agatha Christie was a brilliant writer and storyteller,” Crawford notes. “I have found that a mystery story is not unlike normal life. Mysteries concern people, their relationships to each other and how individual motives affect one’s choices. Mysteries tend to uncover lies, tell carefully guarded secrets and eventually get to the truth.

“We all bring these mystery elements to our own lives and situations,” she continues. “In this story, we watch a group of people make choices and observe the results and, in many cases, the consequences of those choices. We become acquainted with characters who are full of passion, humor, heart and desperation, which play out differently for each person. It is fascinating to direct, to perform and to watch.”

“A Murder Is Announced” is one of Christie’s 25 Miss Marple mysteries. The titular announcement appears, mysteriously, as an ad in a village’s local newspaper. Per Christie’s usual modus operandi, there’s a full slate of characters who could possibly be the murderer, and determining the likely culprit is not easy. When the book was published in 1950, a London reviewer said, “It will be a clever reader indeed who anticipates [the ending], and though Miss Christie is, as usual, scrupulously fair in scattering her clues, close attention to the text is necessary if a correct solution of the mystery is to be arrived at before the astute Miss Marple unmasks the culprit.”

Crawford says Christie’s clever plots are just one of the reasons her plays have been popular over the years at ACO.

“Her mysteries are both historical and timelessly relevant,” says Crawford. “Our community enjoys being entertained, having a problem to solve and seeing familiar faces onstage. This play provides opportunities for many locals to take part in the storytelling, whether onstage or behind the scenes. I hope this show introduces and reignites a love of Agatha Christie plays.”



‘A Murder Is Announced’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8-9 and 15-16; 3 p.m. Feb 10 and 17

WHERE — Arts Center of the Ozarks, 214 S. Main St. in Springdale

COST — $10-$20

INFO — 751-5441

Categories: Theater