Encore Theatre to present ‘Death by Design’

Angie Mayes • Updated Apr 11, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Encore Theatre Co.’s live theatre group will present “Death by Design,” a murder-mystery comedy by Ron Urbinati, which opens April 20.

Show co-director James Bealor, who also serves as Encore’s creative director, said the play is “quite a funny show. You have interesting characters. There’s a murder at the end of act one, and we spend act two trying to figure out who did it. It’s quite a surprise ending.”


The play, which combines the mystery elements of Agatha Christie and the comedy of Noel Coward, is set in an English countryside manor in 1932.

Don Breedwell, the theatre’s technical director and facilities manager, is also a co-director of the show. He said Encore chose the play because “we like mysteries, and we like comedy. Both of those elements are contained in this play. It’s a nice period piece, and I think it will meet the requirements of the dynamics of our audience.”

With the show set in England, the actors bring their best accents to the table in the show.

“It is hard doing the British accent,” said Corinne Cook, who plays Sorel Bennett. “I’m from California, so it’s not cutting the Southern accent out of it. It’s just getting the right take on it and keeping it the whole play.”

Tammy Sutherland plays household maid Bridgit, who is Irish.

“I like to do accents,” she said. “I’ve done a number of accents. I haven’t done Irish in a long time, so I wanted to do Irish again.”

Bringing a Cockney accent to the show is Evan Grabenstein, who plays Jack. He said he wanted the role as a “challenge. I’ve done a Cockney accent before, but I haven’t really refined it. This gave me the chance to play a role as elongated as this.”

He said after a while, it’s hard to continue the accent, “but it comes down to knowing the lines and knowing exactly how to say it. There’s one particular line where I took four hours trying figure out how to say each individual word.”

Cook said she likes the fact that her character “is oblivious to anyone else. She’s very narcissistic and it’s all about ‘me.’ Nothing else matters and it’s fun to be in that headset for a while.”

Sutherland is fond of Bridgit, who she describes as a “curmudgeon-type personality and I can bring that forth, so to speak. I like the fact that she is kind of fiery and doesn’t pay attention to her employers. She does what she wants to do. She’s very lively in that sense so I enjoy that.”

Grabenstein said he likes the character because Jack and Bridgit are the “comic relief” of the show, and that gives him a chance to perform comedy. 

“He’s kind of a happy-go-lucky, free-flowing kind of guy,” Grabenstein said. “He doesn’t let anything get to him. He knows he’s got orders and has things to do. The less he complains about it, the sooner he’ll be done.”

The show runs April 20-21 and April 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. and April 22 and April 29 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling 615-598-8950. The theatre is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of Highway 109, in Mt. Juliet. 

For more information about Encore Theatre Co., visit encore-theatre-company.org.

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