Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment


March 5, 2012
Critic Marcus Crowder gives three stars to STC's 'Dial M'

By Marcus Crowder

mcrowder@sacbee.com

Frederick Knott's "Dial 'M' for Murder" has become a popular, iconic and much imitated thriller ever since the play first premiered on BBC television in 1952.

The stage version successfully went to both London's West End and New York's Broadway the same year. However, the play was indelibly stamped into the public consciousness through director Alfred Hitchcock's intense 1954 film version which starred Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.

The Sacramento Theatre Company opened its lumpy new production this weekend with a buoyant Matt K. Miller and a graceful Jackie Vanderbeck in the lead roles.

Playwright Knott must have been forever grateful that the cinematic master Hitchcock quickly needed a project to fulfill a contract with Warner Brothers and snapped up his hit play. Knott conceived a fairly tight plot in which an outwardly hapless husband plots to have an old college acquaintance murder his unfaithful wife. Hitchcock significantly elevated the piece with his unerring sense of dramatic detail, upping the intensity through film editing, and the inspired casting of Kelly and Milland.

Here, Miller plays the seemingly care-free Tony Wendice, a former tennis pro turned businessman living happily with his wife, Vanderbeck's Margot Wendice. Margot's former lover, American writer Max Hubbard (Barry Hubbard), has come back into her life, and they still have the same feelings for one another.

Set in the living room of the Wendices' London flat (designed by Mims Mattair), the sluggish early scenes give us the back story while setting the murder plot in motion. Margot and Max reveal their intimacy, and Tony manipulates the vulnerable Capt. Lesgate (Scott Divine). Though Miller has a necessary twinkle in his eye and Vanderbeck an alluring coolness, there's an early shuffling awkwardness in the production until the cast settles.

Gary Alan Wright's careful Inspector Hubbard brings a sharpness and subtle comic flashes to the play's second-half investigation. Director Greg Alexander gradually fixes an inevitable tension to the canny proceedings of this decidedly old-school chestnut.

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916)321-1120.

Dial 'M' for Murder
***
What: The Sacramento Theatre Company produces Frederick Knott's iconic murder-for-hire thriller, starring Matt K. Miller, Jackie Vanderbeck and Gary Alan Wright. Greg Alexander directs.

Where: STC's Main Stage, 1419 H St., Sacramento

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 25

Tickets: $15-38 (Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups. Rush tickets may be available at half-price one hour prior to each performance.)

Contact: (916) 443-6722, (888) 478-2849, www.sactheatre.org

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Watch Bee news, lifestyle videos | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

Categories


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives