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Dietrich remake does well on Whitestone stage

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The crime: Murder. The prime suspect: A young man. This is the plot behind Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery whodunit, “The Usual Suspects,” beginning a two-week engagement at the First Presbyterian Church in Whitestone this week.

Redone by Theatre Time Productions, the play is a tour de force with topnotch acting by the actors, who have faithfully reproduced the play, right down to the English and German accents. The TimesLedger got a sneak preview of the production Sunday, during a dress rehearsal. The first show is Friday at 8 p.m.

The plot centers on Leonard Vole, a young man (played by Kevin Vincent) who finds himself the prime suspect in the murder of a wealthy widow whom he earlier befriended. To make matters worse, he stands to inherit her fortune which she bequeathed to him in her final will, providing the police with a motive. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder.

Seemingly carefree as to the seriousness of his predicament, Vole walks into the law office of Mr. Meyers (Ray Palen) and Dr. Wyatt (Mickey Dandola). Although he admits to being out the night of the murder, he swears he was home before it was committed, something he says his wife will also attest to. The two lawyers assess the evidence against him, judge his character, and decide he is indeed a victim of circumstance, and his case worth taking on. Palen and Dandola are superb as the cautious Mr. Meyers and the cerebrally inquisitive ace, Dr. Wyatt.

Vole’s seemingly solid alibi in the form of his German immigrant wife, the cold and impassive Romaine Vole—played to perfection by Tara Palen—begins to unravel upon meeting her. She indicates to the lawyers in no uncertain terms that she may be prepared to back up Leonard’s claim to being home at the time in question, but that it also is not really true. Later, in fact, she becomes the witness for the prosecution, the first in a series of twists and double-twists, as the list of suspects grows with each new revelation.

The excellent production by the husband and wife team of Judy and Kevin Vincent, is reflected in the set design by Tom Williams, the lighting by Bill Haas, and especially in the 1930s London-era wardrobing, also done by actor Dandola. The story is worth re-seeing, even if you saw the film classic starring Marlene Deitrich

The First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone is located at 15-43 149th St. The Q14 [bus] stops there. Show dates are Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20, and April 26 and 27 at 8 p.m., and Sunday April 21 and 28 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 for adults, and $11 for seniors and children 13 and under. Opening night, April 19, all seats are $10. To reserve tickets call 391-8697.

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