Starlight Village Players Begin 35th Season with a Web of Intrigue
By DAVID DIERKS
The Orinda Starlight Village Players (OrSVP) start their 35th year producing plays in the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater with Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web on June 1. The plot involves Clarissa, played by Claire Stevenson, a diplomat’s wife and spinner of stories discovering a murder victim in her drawing room and her desperate attempts to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician. The play delivers a blend of suspense and humor in a plot involving murder, drug addicts, police, invisible ink and secret drawers.
This year marks OrSVP’s third production of the popular Christie play Spider’s Web. The company previously staged the show in 1993 and 2009. One of the key roles in the play is a 9-year-old girl, Pippa Hailsham-Brown. This part is also one of the hardest to cast. Stevenson, daughter of Artistic Director Geotty Chapple, played Pippa in the 1993 production and OrSVP regular Laura Martin-Chappin played Clarissa. In the 2009 production, Martin-Chapin reprised her role of Clarissa with her daughter, Natalie Chapin, playing Pippa. This year, Stevenson plays Clarissa and her daughter, Geneveve Di Natale, plays Pippa.
This production is directed by long-time OrSVP actor and director Suzan Lorraine. Lorraine has directed over a dozen plays at OrSVP, mostly Christie mysteries. “They’re fun for both the cast and the audience! Most people are familiar with her books so they already know what’s likely to happen, but they love seeing it happen on stage,” says Lorraine. In addition to directing at OrSVP, Lorraine has directed at The Masquers (Point Richmond), Chanticleers (Castro Valley), Actor’s Ensemble (Berkeley) and the Marin and Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festivals.
You might derive an added bonus when attending the play. On clear nights, OrSVP usually has telescopes set up so the audience can get a look at some of the nearby celestial objects before or after the play or at intermissions. The moon, of course, often gets a close look, but whenever Saturn is visible, you can get a nice view of her rings. “The venue at Orinda is my all-time favorite, and the people I get to work with are worth the cold nights and hot days,” says Lorraine. “This is a magic setting and when the lights go down, the stars – on stage and in the sky – come out.”
Performances of Spider’s Web run from June 1 through June 30, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 p.m., with one Thursday performance on June 7 at 8 p.m. and one Sunday performance on June 24 at 4 p.m. OrSVP is completely volunteer run and no one at the theater is paid. Anyone interested in any aspect of theater who would like to help is encouraged to contact the group at www.orsvp.org or 925-528-9225. “This is a great place to get your feet wet in community theater, so do come play with us,” adds Lorraine, an invite that, unlike Spider’s Web, contains no mystery.