"The Unexpected Guest"

"The Unexpected Guest" opens Feb. 9 at Beatniks on Conkey.

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Valerie Wotkun, director of Hammond Community Theatre’s production of “The Unexpected Guest,” has two specific responses she hopes to receive from attendees of her production of the Agatha Christie mystery.

“My goal is to hear the audience have a lot of chatter at intermission,” she said. “And I want to have them gasp at the end.”

Opening Feb. 9 and running through Feb. 18 at Hammond’s Beatniks on Conkey, “Guest” is a whodunnit sparked when a dead body is found in a study in South Wales. While the dead man’s wife is seen holding a gun, it is revealed, through many twists and turns and a cast of questionable characters, that things are not what they seem.

Penned by iconic British mystery author and playwright Christie, whose classic credentials include “Murder on the Orient Express,” "Death on the Nile” and “The Mousetrap,” “Guest” was penned for the stage and made its debut in her homeland in 1958. It has been a favorite of community theater ensembles around the globe through the decades.

The play is Wotkun’s third Christie adaptation for Hammond Community Theatre. She staged “The Mousetrap” in 2014 and “And Then There Were None” two years later.

“When I read (‘Guest’) I said to myself ‘I Like this one,’ because it’s a little more believable,” she said. “Some of the cast, when they read the script, they kept thinking their character was (the killer) until they got to the end.”

Hammond Community Theatre’s “Guest” cast is composed of Aaron Duncil, Maggie Lerner, Maek Aken, Linda Didelot, Kay Wagman, Kyle Knotts, Andy Leahy, Mike Learner and Don Taylor.

“It’s going well,” Wotkun said of her production. “Things are falling into place nicely. We’re doing well. We’re getting excited.”

Next up for Hammond Community Theatre is a production of the comedy “Camping with Henry and Tom,” scheduled to open at Beatniks April 6

FYI: “The Unexpected Guest” runs at 8 p.m. Feb. 9-10 and 16-17 and 2 p.m. Feb. 11 and 18 at Beatniks on Conkey, 418 Conkey St,. Hammond. Cost is $15. Call 219-852-0848 or visit HAMMONDCOMMUNITYTHEATRE.ORG.

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