It may not be a dark and stormy night, but the theater students at Pocahontas County High School are on edge – there is a murderer or murderers among them and they must discover who it is before it’s too late.
English and theater teacher Samara Mann took a classic Agatha Christie mystery, “Ten Little Indians,” gave it a Christmas twist and voila, “Ten Little Nutcrackers” was born.
The theater class has been through many twists and turns this year so it only seems appropriate to have a mystery on their hands.
“I’ve never done theater before,” Mann said. “But we were going to do a midterm murder mystery and then a Christmas play. However, the content has made it a little more challenging getting it done by Halloween, so we backed it up. Then we decided to combine our Christmas play with a murder mystery.”
Making lemonade out of lemons, the new play gave each student in the class a part and an opportunity to perform in one of the most iconic play genres – a Whodunit.
While the reveal is secret, the plot is simple – 10 people are invited to vacation at a resort only to discover they do not know their host and they are all accused of murder.
“No one really knows anything,” Mann said. “They know they are all accused of murder. They are all rich, posh people. It’s a different world for these kids and I’m trying to explain that.”
The play began as just a read-through, but the students enjoyed it so much, it became the main event.
“The kids loved this play,” Mann said. “It was the perfect number. Everybody got to have a part. It’s going really well. The kids are interested, and they really want to do well.”
Mann has taken part in learning, as well, as this is her first year teaching theater.
“It’s just been a new world for me,” she said. “I’ve done a Shakespearian acting camp. I did Governor’s School for the Arts, which was great. I learned I couldn’t act, so I enjoy theater. I just have not had much experience on stage, especially running lights and things.”
Luckily, Mann has had help from fellow teachers. Her husband, band director Bob Mann has assisted with the technical side of things and carpentry teacher Duane Gibson and his students constructed a set.
Despite being new to the process, practice for the play has gone well, and Mann and the students are looking forward to performing for the public and school.
“We’re going to have school productions closer to Christmas,” Mann said.
The play, set on Carol Island, will be presented for the public Tuesday, December 9, at 7 p.m. at the PCHS Auditorium.