The classic thriller, about a wealthy elderly woman who falls under the spell of a dashing young stranger and winds up dead, is in its opening weekend at Olympia Little Theatre.
Ive loved this play for about 30 years, Bujeaud said. Ive put in to direct it a few others times, and people have beaten me to it.
Im really excited to do this show, she said. Its considered one of the first psychological thrillers, which is right up my alley. Its smart, and its fun, and I have some great actors.
As a classic thriller, the play offers chills without a lot of blood.
Its not gory, Bujeaud said. Its not overblown.
Its not a whodunit, she said. Its one of the first plays where you pretty much know whos done it from the get-go.
Emlyn Williams wrote the play in 1935. These days, it is best known as the source of the 1937 film with Rosalind Russell. A revised version was produced on Broadway in 1999, with Matthew Broderick in the role of Dan, the stranger who takes in the old woman, Mrs. Bramson, and raises the suspicions of her niece Olivia.
The Olympia Little Theatre production uses the original script, Bujeaud said. Its the one Ive been carrying around for all these years and was in love with, she said.
If the script is old, the play has some new actors.
A 17-year-old and a 19-year-old are my two leads, the director said. It was a big gamble, and I think its paying off. They are very talented.
Sara Geiger, a senior at Tumwater High School, plays Olivia, and Xander Layden, a student at South Puget Sound Community College, plays Dan. They are both just a bit younger than their roles: Olivia is a recent college graduate, and Dan can be anywhere from 20 to 45.
In the 30s, they used to have older people playing young people all the time, Bujeaud said. So Ive just kind of flipped it around a little bit. Another new face to many theatergoers will be Diana Purvine, who plays Mrs. Bramson.
Its the first time shes been on stage in more than 20 years, Bujeaud said. She was a singer. She did a lot of musicals.
But if Purvines name sounds familiar, that may be through her son Paul Purvine, who was steadily involved in South Sound theater before he graduated from The Evergreen State College in 2009 and moved to New York.
Layden, who lives in Yelm, was last seen in SPSCCs As You Like It. He says hes having a good time with the role of Dan.
Im just trying to have as much fun with it as possible, because the character is enjoying the whole process, he said. I dont have to worry about making it a perfect performance, because the character is acting himself.
He said his approach to the role was inspired by Tom Cruise and by Christian Bale in American Psycho.
Besides the fact that Dan is an actor of sorts, is there anything else Layden can relate to about the character?
I can relate to faking a smile, he said, and I do that excessively in this play.