Classic Agatha Christie Murder and Mayhem

I love Agatha Christie mysteries, so I’m looking forward to watching Lifetime’s new version of “And Then There Were None.” The first episode airs tomorrow with Miranda Richardson, Sam Neill, Charles Dance, Anna Maxwell-Martin (who looks kind of creepy in the trailer), and the gorgeous Aiden Turner among the cast.

Not too long ago I saw the 1940’s version with Barry Fitzgerald in one of the lead roles, and enjoyed it; so I’m ready to be thoroughly entertained by this new, atmospheric version of the classic murder mystery.

imagesSo what do Agatha Christie murder mysteries have to do with Regency-era romance?

Absolutely nothing.

But every now and then we all need to cleanse our palates from the every-day stuff. Murder does that for me. A dose of poison and some mayhem give me a much-needed break from my usual world of excruciatingly proper manners and witty ballroom repartee. So I’m going to spend my Sunday evening watching to see how and when the first guest at dinner will fall. Judging from the trailer, there may even be a couple of made-you-jump moments.

But that’s Sunday. By the time I wake up on Monday morning, I’ll be refreshed and ready to type away at my next story of polite heroines and witty heroes.

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America Waits for Downton Abbey

It’s not easy to be an American right now. Downton Abbey’s sixth and final season hasn’t yet aired here in the U.S. We Americans have to wait until January 2016 to see Season 6 while the rest of world is consuming and savoring every last detail of the final episodes right now. (The last part of the preceding sentence should be read with an increasingly whining tone.)

Season 6 Cast

While I do my best to patiently wait for PBS to air the show in America (and for Amazon to fulfill my pre-ordered DVD of Season 6), I started looking for ways to still be part of the Season 6 hoopla. It’s a bit of a tricky tight-rope walk. For example, I wouldn’t mind seeing some still photos of the production, but I don’t want to know what happens in the plot. I wouldn’t mind seeing reveals of some of the gorgeous costumes Edith and Mary and Cora will wear, I but I don’t want to read editorials that criticize the final season (gasp!).

What’s a patient American Downton Abbey fan to do?

Highclere Castle, site of the fictional Downton Abbey (BritishHeritage.com)

Highclere Castle, site of the fictional Downton Abbey (BritishHeritage.com)

Answer: Turn to British Heritage. I’ve subscribed to this magazine for years, and it’s one of my favorites (see my previous post). And in honor of the show’s final season, British Heritage has included a nice article about Downton Abbey in their winter edition.

Even better, they’ve delivered the first in a series of podcasts that describe the social and economic world of post World War I Britain and how those factors might influence Season 6 plot lines.

The Ladies of Downton Abbey in Season 6(PBS.org)

The Ladies of Downton Abbey in Season 6 (PBS.org)

Thank goodness! British Heritage delivered just enough Downton Abbey to satisfy me. I think I can wait until January now (although I may have to revisit PBS’s website and watch those one minute teasers a couple more times).

If you’re like me and are patiently waiting (more or less) for the final season of Downton Abbey to air, please leave a comment and share how you’re passing the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Watching Wolf Hall?

Wolf Hall is my new favorite show. It chronicles Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in the court of Henry VIII.

NPG D24213; Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex after Hans Holbein the Younger

But what sets this drama apart from other productions that have told the same story is how it humanizes Cromwell the man. In other movies and television shows, such as The Tudors, Cromwell was portrayed simply as a ruthlessly ambitious upstart with no loyalties or emotional attachments. In Wolf Hall, we see a man who loved his family, and was capable of treating others with kindness and respect. We see his motivations and loyalties.

The other thing that sets Wolf Hall apart: the actor who plays King Henry VIII. History tells us that Henry was an impressive figure: tall and muscular with red hair. He would have stood out in any crowd. The actor who portrayed Henry in The Tudors looked nothing like the historical descriptions of Henry VIII, and that made it hard for me to enjoy the series.

However, in Wolf Hall, Damien Lewis plays Henry VIII, and he’s a much better physical match, helping make his portrayal much more believable.

Damian Lewis as Henry VIII

I’m addicted to this series about Henry VIII and his wives, told through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. Lucky for me (and everyone else interested in the show) Britain magazine has published some on-line articles and images about Wolf Hall. You can follow these links to read more about:

Inside Wolf Hall’s Hampton Court Palace
Wolf Hall – Fact or Fiction?
Wolf Hall’s Filming Locations

Prepare the Barouche; I’m Going to the Thea-tah

At last! I’m finally counting down the days until I see Austenland! I’ve been looking forward to this movie (based on the novel by Shannon Hale) since I first heard about it in January. The film opened yesterday in Los Angeles and New York. Here are a few of the review tweets I read this morning:

Austenland Review Tweets

And USA Today says “Austenland is spirited and gently witty.”

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The film, like the book, pays homage to modern-day Janeites who just can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy and, if given the chance, wouldn’t mind indulging in a little Pride and Prejudice role-playing.

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Sony’s release schedule has the film opening in my city on August 30 and I’ll be there! I hope it comes to your town soon. You can check your city’s release date here.

Sense & Sensibility: The Musical

I love going to the theater and seeing productions everyone’s talking about; but every once in a while, I get to see a new play that hasn’t yet hit the critics’ radar screens. Denver is fortunate to be the venue where many productions premier their plays before heading to New York or embarking on a national tour. That was the case with Sense & Sensibility: The Musical.

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It’s a charming version of one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and it didn’t disappoint me. The cast was exceptional, the costumes by Emilio Sosa (one of my all-time favorite Project Runway designers) were a visual treat, and the music and lyrics helped move the story along. I’ll even confess to getting a little misty-eyed during Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s duet; it was so sweet and touching! (You’ll see Marianne and the Colonel at the 1:15 mark on the video below.)

I hope you get a chance to see this wonderful production. In the meantime, follow this link to the Facebook page for Sense & Sensibility: the Musical, where you can read more about the production, see pictures of the performance, and hear the songs.

Click on this link to read an article from Broadway World about the sold-out performances of SSTM’s Denver world premier.