Secret is Out: Orinda Starlight Village Players are Back on Stage

(David Dierks, Photographer)
The dedicated volunteers of the Orinda Starlight Village Players rehearse Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys on the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater stage evenings during the week and help with set construction on the weekends. Seen here on their partially completed set, are (L-R) William Spongberg, Bill Chessman, Miriam Michels and in front Director Laura Martin-Chapin. The Secret of Chimneys opens June 2 and runs through July 1. For more information, visit

    The Orinda Starlight Village Players (OrSVP) begin its 40th season at the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater with Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys. Directed by Laura Martin-Chapin, performances run from June 2 through July 1.
    Penned in 1931, its planned performance was mysteriously canceled.
    “Written as a reworking of her novel of the same name, it was lost and not produced until this century,” said Martin-Chapin. “Although many of her plays have become almost classic and iconic, Chimneys is still relatively unknown. As such, it is not overdone and provides an unusual opportunity for the director and ensemble to shape the play from the inside out, by establishing their own character-quality and interactions.”
    The action takes place at Chimneys, the Brent family estate. A young drifter, Anthony Cade, is tasked to perform a simple errand on behalf of a friend. Little does he suspect, this job will land him in the center of a conspiracy being investigated by Scotland Yard and the French Surete.
    “Filled with quirky characters, The Secret of Chimneys is not just a murder-mystery, it involves a jewel heist, exiled royalty, international conspiracy, a love story and of course, an historic country manor – all with a definite sheen of fun,” said Martin-Chapin. “Christie’s writings are characterized by light-hearted ‘what-ifs’ and puzzling murder and Chimneys is no exception.”
    Martin-Chapin has graced the OrSVP stage many times, as well as performing with other local theater companies.
    “Having performed in several of Christie’s plays at OrSVP over the years, it is a pleasure to be in a position to be the one to build the ensemble and guide the scene and character development,” she said.
    “I am enjoying working with this fine cast and crew as we dig into the nuances of the play, to develop the storyline occurring at a time before social media and television news,” added Martin-Chapin. “Every day there are additional aspects about the period and location I want to research and new angles to consider for how best to present an absorbing performance to the audience.”
    Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 p.m., Sunday, June 25 at 4 p.m. and Thursday June 29 at 8 p.m.
    OrSVP is a volunteer organization and no one at the theater receives compensation. Interested in any aspect of theater and would like to help? Contact or 925.528.9225.
    For more information, visit

David Dierks can be reached at

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