Fans of the twist ending (and really, isn’t that all of us?) should be particularly excited for Moorestown High School’s latest fall production, Witness for the Prosecution.
The Agatha Christie classic—about a young man accused of murdering a wealthy widow—was initially unfamiliar to most cast members, but they’ll definitely never forget its (SPOILER ALERT) shocking denouement.
“When I saw the ending, I was like, ‘Whoa,’” said senior Josh Toro, who plays the prosecutor, Mr. Myers.
Castmate Kevin Mullin, who plays the defense attorney, Sir Wilfrid, was equally surprised by the ending: “It just keeps building and building, and you get to the end, and there’s a huge twist revealed. But you’re not even done yet.”
Theater director Greg Harr said he was drawn to Christie’s courtroom drama because he wanted to give the students a “breadth of experience,” and Moorestown hadn’t tackled a murder mystery in recent memory.
And, he added, “If we’re going to do a murder mystery, I wanted to do one of the best.”
Aside from lacking much in the way of “action”—virtually all the drama comes from the dialogue and the interactions between characters—the show poses the added challenge of requiring actors to adopt British accents for their performances.
It was a task all the actors were up to, Harr said as he watched three students perform a scene, accents and all, during a rehearsal last week. But it took some work getting there.
“It’s a little bit challenging. You have to sort of warm up,” admitted Josh. “A lot of it’s muscle memory, so the more you do it, the more you get better at it.”
The accent aside, just mastering the dialogue was a challenge, said senior Liz Crino, who plays Romaine Vole, the wife of the accused, because all the drama and suspense is derived from the writing and its delivery.
“It puts so much pressure on what you actually say, so you want to make sure everything you say, you’re saying with appropriate meaning behind it,” Crino said. “Because you want to make sure the audience knows the importance of every line.”
Upon the film version's release in 1957, Witness for the Prosecution audiences were urged “Don’t spoil the ending.” Harr and his actors passed along the same advice (and don’t accidentally spoil it for yourself like poor Kevin Mullin).
“It really draws you in throughout the whole show. And then it isn’t until the last couple scenes or so that it really just breaks you down,” said Jack Morgan, who plays the main character, the accused Leonard Vole. “It’s a good ride … Even if you look for the clues, you won’t know what’s happening.”
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, with additional shows on Friday and Saturday (also both at 7:30). Tickets are $10/adults and $8/students and seniors and can be purchased online at www.showtix4u.com by searching “Moorestown.” You can also buy tickets in advance at the high school or at the door.