Canebrake Players’ production set

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 6, 2005

After an absence of five years, Walter Brown McCord is returning to the Demopolis theater scene to direct the next Canebrake Players’ production, “And Then There Were None.”

“I was really looking forward to this for a long, long time. I’m glad to be back.”

The play will be presented Friday and Saturday, June 10-11, at 7 p.m. in the Old School Theater on Main Street and again on Sunday, June 12, at 2 p.m.

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Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door.

This is 20th play McCord has directed for the Canebrake Players. That doesn’t include the four different versions of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and the five children’s productions he staged.

But starting production on this play wasn’t easy. “It’s almost necessary for something to go wrong for us to get together,”

First, McCord became ill, and then there was a death in his family, so rehearsals really didn’t start until a week after they were scheduled. The cast came through, however. “We’re in the fun part,” McCord said of rehearsals.

McCord relishes the plot of the story, which weaves suspense, foul play, romance, intrigue and, yes, a little humor. Based on an Agatha Christie mystery novel, the play tells the story of 10 people summoned to a remote island by a mystery person. All of them have committed murder, but their guilt could not be proven. One by one they die, following the words of the poem, “Ten Little Indians.”

In spite of being on hiatus as a director for five years, McCord said there were very few challenges in putting together the production. He gave high praise to his assistant director, Jan Wilburn, who has led a number of plays in her own right. Wilburn was in the very first play McCord directed for the local little theater group in 1982, “Blithe Spirit.” That play was held in the Civic Center.

Wilburn’s husband, Buddy, the president of the Canebrake Players, is putting together the set. Extending onto the stage apron, the set is the largest one McCord has ever used.

“It’s wonderful to be in this theater since it’s now livable,” McCord said. Since he last directed a play, the Old School had a complete electrical upgrade, providing better lighting for the auditorium. McCord recalled the first play in the building – the second he directed — when the theater was nothing but a large, empty room and the audience sat on metal folding chairs.

The director expressed delight in working with newcomers to the Demopolis stage, Laura Clements and Don Sprewell. Several veterans are returning, including Kirk Brooker, Rebecca Roemen and Jennifer Roemen. Returning after many years is Andrew Traeger.

Talent from outlying areas will be on the Demopolis stage. From Livingston are Mike Reekie and Madoline and Richard Thurn, and coming from Greensboro is Peggy Hopkins.