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“Night Must Fall” Reveals the Different Faces of Evil

Thursday, October 10, 2013 3:39:00 PM

Weathervane Playhouse’s 79th season continues with the mystery-thriller-chiller Night Must Fall – directed by Eileen Moushey and presented live on stage from Oct. 10 to 27, 2013.

Written by Emlyn Williams, Night Must Fall is a taut psychological thriller containing all the elements of a classic British murder-mystery — an autocratic dowager, her lonely spinster companion, a gloomy remote country home…and murder!

Set in 1935 in the English county of Essex, the play’s action takes place inside a bungalow named Forest Corner, whose owner, Mrs. Branson, is a domineering — but very wealthy — widow and hypochondriac.

Olivia, Mrs. Bramson’s niece and paid companion, is unhappy and lonely and longs for a life different than the one which fate has handed her. A feisty housekeeper, a flustered maid, and a genial neighbor round out the "regulars" at Forest Corner. But when a murdered woman’s body is discovered nearby, everyone is stunned by this sudden jolt of violence into their quiet lives.

Into this mix enters a young man named Dan, whose charm and personality lights up the room, lifts the spirits of all, and earns him a spot in the household. But is he what he appears, or is something not quite right about him?

From there, a diabolical game of cat and mouse begins, climaxing in a desperate race to prevent yet another murder. The different faces of evil are unveiled in this vintage story of intrigue and suspense. Terror, uncertainty, and a shocking conclusion make Night Must Fall a perfectly thrilling entertainment.

CLICK HERE to get the play's performance information and to see who's who in the cast and creative team.

ABOUT THE SHOW'S DIRECTOR

EILEEN MOUSHEY is a freelance writer/director and a two-time regional Emmy Award winner. Since 1986, her company, Mysteries by Moushey, has provided original comedy/mystery scripts to over 1,500 theaters, colleges and high schools. Besides plays, Eileen has written and directed commercials, video scripts and education television programs. In 2001 and 2005, she won Emmy Awards from the Great Lakes Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for an educational children's series she wrote for Western Reserve Public Media (channels 45/49). An active member of the Weathervane community for more than 30 years, Eileen has appeared on stage, designed lights, sound and props, and has served on the Playhouse's Board of Trustees, including a term as president and the chairmanship of two capital fundraising campaigns. Eileen is the coordinator of Weathervane's annual 8x10 TheatreFest — a celebration of the short, short, short play — which next year will be held July 11, 12 and 13, 2014. Her directorial credits at Weathervane include And the Winner Is, Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, A Tuna Christmas and See How They Run. She lives in Kent with her husband, Stephen. They have three children and three grandchildren. She and Stephen are looking forward to the arrival of a new daughter-in-law when their son, Rory, brings home his Elle from Taiwan.

ABOUT THE PLAY'S PRODUCTION HISTORY AND ADAPTATIONS

Night Must Fall was first produced for the stage in London at the Duchess Theatre, where it opened May 31, 1935. The first Broadway production opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City in September of 1936. A film adaptation followed in 1937, and it starred Robert Montgomery as Dan, Rosalind Russell as Olivia and May Whitty as Mrs. Bramson (in the role that she had originated in London and New York). Night Must Fall was adapted into a radio play in April 1946 on Molle Mystery, and it was again performed in March 1948 on the long-running radio drama series Suspense (with Robert Montgomery and Dame May Whitty reprising their original roles). A second film version (with Albert Finney in the role of Dan) came to movie theaters in 1964. The play was revived in London in 1986 at the Greenwich Theatre, and then on Broadway in 1999 (with Matthew Broderick playing Dan).

(Sources: the Internet Broadway Database and Wikipedia)

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

EMLYN WILLIAMS was a Welsh playwright, screenwriter and actor. Born George Emlyn Williams in Flintshire in northeast Wales on Nov. 26, 1905, he lived in a rural village in which Welsh was spoken until he was 12 years old, when his family moved to an English-speaking town. The move changed the course of his life, as it was there that a teacher, Sarah Grace Cooke, recognized his literary talent. She encouraged him and helped him win a scholarship to Oxford, where he attended the college of Christ Church. She is immortalized in the character of "Miss Moffat" in his play The Corn is Green.

Education enabled him to escape the life of hard labor that was the lot of his people. He attended Christ Church, Oxford and also studied in Geneva, Switzerland. He joined a repertory theater and made his acting debut in And So To Bed in London in November of 1927. He eventually became an accomplished stage and screen actor, but it as a playwright that he had his greatest success, eventually writing a score of plays.

He had his first theatrical success as a writer with A Murder Has Been Arranged. The success of his 1935 play Night Must Fall, which opened that year at London's Duchess Theatre, led to its being transferred to New York the following year.

The Corn Is Green was a Broadway triumph for the great Ethel Barrymore in 1940 and brought Bette Davis one of her 10 Oscar nominations in the 1945 film adaptation. Katharine Hepburn later played the part of  Miss Moffat in the 1979 TV movie directed by George Cukor.

Williams' plays Yesterday's Magic, The Morning Star and Someone Waiting were also performed on Broadway, and he had a success on the Great White Way as an actor, too, in a solo performance as Charles Dickens, which he revived twice. He was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for A Boy Growing Up (1958), an adaptation of a work by fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas.

True to his Welsh heritage, Williams also nurtured the young Welshman Richard Burton, whom he directed in his first lead film role in Women of Dolwyn (1949). (Burton's professional stage debut had been in Williams' play Druid's Rest, and Emyln Williams' son, Brook Williams, became one of Burton's life-long friends). Williams was the godfather to his Burton's daughter, Kate Burton, who is also an actress.

In addition to directing and acting in film, Emlyn Williams famously collaborated with the great director Alfred Hitchcock. Williams acted in and wrote additional dialogue for both the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and Jamaica Inn (1939).

Williams wrote two memoirs — George: An Early Autobiography (1961) and Emlyn: An Early Autography, 1927-1935 (1974) — as well as a 1967 non-fiction account of the Moors Murders entitled Beyond Belief. His 1980 novel Headlong was adapted into the movie King Ralph (1991). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1962.

When he died on Sept. 25, 1987, Emlyn Williams had written or co-written 20 screenplays in addition to his 20 plays. As an actor, he had appeared in 41 films and teleplays, in addition to his numerous appearances on stage.

(Sources: The Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia)

 

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