“Witness for the Prosecution” Opens at Church Hill Theatre


Witness for the Prosecution, directed by Christopher Wallace, is a gripping duel between two legal giants arguing a capital murder case in foggy post-World War II London. The play, which was generously sponsored by Foam Works, LLC, opens at Church Hill Theatre on March 24 and runs for three weekends. Based on a 1925 short story she later adapted for the stage, Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution has been delighting and perplexing audiences for almost a century. Like all classics, this play remains fresh because it’s based on human emotions—and an unhealthy dose of Biblical sin.

Leonard Vole’s wife Romaine (Nina Sharp) looks out to a tense courtroom, as Mr. Justice Wainwright (Charles “Pat” Patterson) adjudicates.

Simple man Leonard Vole has been accused of murder, but there are countless questions without answers for this capital charge. What relationship existed between attractive young Vole and his much older patron, Emily French? Leonard is devoted to his German-born wife Romaine, but is she an ideal character witness? Do the lead barristers live up to their reputations for brilliance? Much depends on circumstantial evidence: fragments of glass, a bloodstained jacket, and the exact timing of events. Christie provides both red herrings and legitimate clues, so audiences needs to pay careful attention as they reach their own conclusions about Vole’s guilt or innocence. This drama would be an excellent introduction to live theater for middle schoolers and teens but smaller children might have trouble following the courtroom repartee.

The stage version of Witness for the Prosecution, which opened in London in 1953, was followed by the hit 1957 film starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton.  A subsequent remake featured Edward G. Robinson, Beau Bridges, Diana Rigg and Sir Ralph Richardson.  A TV miniseries came out in 2016 and Ben Affleck is working with the Agatha Christie estate on a new film version.

Leonard Vole (Robbie Spray) stands on trial, as Inspector Hearne and Mr. Mayhew (Sheila Austrian and John Haas) consider the evidence.

Christopher Wallace has assembled a large cast that is sure to keep Delmarva audiences on the edge of their seats. Robbie Spray plays the murder suspect, Leonard Vole; Nina Sharp plays his wife, Romaine. John Haas plays Vole’s legal team of Mr. Mayhew. Howard Mesick plays the head of the prosecution team, Mr. Myers, Q.C. Others in the cast, playing police officers, lawyers, court officials and various witnesses include: Christine Kinlock, Pat Patterson, Sheila Austrian, John Terebey, Jim Johnson, Allan Price, Jane Terebey, Tina Johnson, Shane Moran, Perry Stutman, Lynn McLain, Steve Hazzard, Shelagh Grasso, and Kendall Davis.

The director’s back-stage production team includes Stage Manager Michelle Christopher, Producer Liz Clarke, Set Designers/Builders Michael Whitehill and Brian Draper, Costume Designer Juanita Wieczoreck, Light Designer Nic Carter and Sound Designer Patrick Fee.

Witness for the Prosecution runs from March 24 to April 9, 2017, with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. CHT offers special 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, March 24, at the box office or to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the CHT office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

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