International Mystery Writers’ Festival to Stage U.S. Premiere of Lost Agatha Christie Play
World Premiere of New Sherlock Holmes Mystery is Set
OWENSBORO, Ky. – Zev Buffman, president & founder of the International Mystery Writers’ Festival, announced today that he has secured the exclusive rights to the U.S. premiere of Agatha Christie’s lost play “Chimneys.” The play was supposedly scheduled to debut in London in 1931. The only manuscript, in Christie’s own handwriting, disappeared during her trip to North America and remained lost for more than 70 years. It was discovered in Calgary, Alberta by the Artistic Director of the Vertigo Mystery Theatre, where Chimneys had its worldwide première in October 2003, attended by Agatha Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard. The Pitlochry Festival Theatre in Scotland subsequently staged the European premiere in summer of 2006. The play was based on Christie’s novel, “The Secret of Chimneys”, a classic Christie mystery thriller.
The RiverPark Center in Owensboro, Ky., was granted the exclusive U.S. rights to premiere the play at the 2008 festival. “The festival prides itself on discovering new mysteries – with the ultimate goal of bringing the mystery play form back to Broadway,” said Buffman, producer of 40 Broadway shows and 100 national tours. “We are thrilled to announce to our festival patrons that they will be seeing a lost Agatha Christie play that has not been yet been seen in New York or London. We are immensely honored, humbled and grateful to the Agatha Christie Estate for entrusting us with this treasure.” In June, the festival held its inaugural event and sold 6,500 tickets. Half of the advance sales came from out of state -- as far away as Florida, Maine, Texas, California and Canada. Mystery giants such as Sue Grafton (The Alphabet series), Stuart Kaminsky (award-winning writer of more than 60 mysteries), and William Link (co-creator of “Columbo” and “Murder, She Wrote”) attended the entire festival, participated in multiple book signings and taught master classes for aspiring authors. Leon Embry, president of Samuel French, Inc., the world largest representative of plays, visited his longtime friend Buffman during the first festival. Leon Embry then contacted Agatha Christie Limited to request a license for the U.S. première, as Samuel French has licensed Agatha Christie’s plays in the United States for years. “I can express non other than sheer delight at the realization that Zev will bring this rare Agatha Christie work to life on stage as a featured attraction of his world-renowned International Mystery Writers’ Festival,” Embry said. “For those privileged individuals who will have an opportunity to experience this historic event, I share the thrill with you. I may be sitting beside you at the theatre the night you attend. Enjoy!” Since the play is a classic Christie mystery thriller, Buffman said he envisions a top Broadway or Hollywood swashbuckling star playing the lead role of Anthony Cade, a young adventuring Englishman who runs into blackmail, conspiracy, romance and murder over missing diamonds and political intrigue in a country in the Balkans.
A New Sherlock Holmes Mystery to World Premiere at Festival
Another world premiere for the festival’s opening week is a new Sherlock Holmes play “The Final Toast” by Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and Edgar winner Stuart Kaminsky. “In 2008, we will celebrate two of the greatest names in the world of mystery – Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes,” Buffman said. “Those legends, combined with many other new features, will make the international festival a highlight for all ages of mystery lovers.”
The 2008 festival will be held at the RiverPark Center June 12-22, which is twice as long as last year. The other entries into the festival will determined by a panel of top agents and entertainment executives from across the country. Manuscripts are due by Nov. 30, but authors are urged to turn in their submissions immediately. Last year, more than 1,000 submissions were received. Other major news from the festival includes: There will be 16 new works performed at the festival, including full-length plays, one-act plays and screenplays as well as full length plays, one-act plays and short stories that will be targeted for young mystery buffs. A total of 82 performances will take place in the 11 days of the festival, compared with 48 in 2007; One new mystery musical will be added to the performances; More than double the number of authors will participate in book signing and master classes; For the first time, festival-goers can ensure the best seats through a refundable early $50 deposit. This option was created because 43 of the 48 performances were sold out during the first festival. Because the full season will not be announced until February, visitors can then evaluate it and decide which package to select; and Ticket packages are available now. Early bird specials start today with 33 percent off on the “Agatha’s Everything” packages. With the 33 percent early bird discount, the price of the package is $249. This is an all-access, all-inclusive, best-seats package of all shows and events offered at the festival, including the televised Angie Award show. The next level package available is the “Mystery Madness” six show package, including the Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes premiere plays for $99.50. (The early bird discount is 15 percent.) In addition, there is the “WhoDunit” three-show package, which costs $73, with a 10 percent discount included. These offers expire on Nov. 30. For more information, visit www.newmysteries.org.