DALLAS TWP. — Cordell Gresh, 19, and Zoe LaPorte, 18, have both dipped their toes in the acting pool by performing in shows at Wyoming Area High School.
The two Misericordia University freshmen are now diving head first into the production of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” to be performed at the school Thursday, Nov. 12 through Saturday, Nov. 14.
“And Then There Were None,” a novel published in 1939, involves a group of 10 strangers who are stranded on a remote island off the coast of England. Upon arrival, the guests discover that their host, an eccentric millionaire, is missing and one by one the guests begin to die, as the remaining characters seek to discover the the true murderer.
LaPorte, of West Pittston, said she and Gresh, of Pittston, both enjoyed their time performing at the high school level with the drama club, but admitted they were both hesitant to move onto the college stage.
“When we came to Misericordia we were thinking, ‘I don’t know if I want to do theater again,’” she said. “But then I had to take a class with Jeffrey (Kelly) for my English major and thought that he was pretty cool and I wanted to audition.”
Kelly, 26, works at Misericordia teaching the First Year Experience course, English classes and a theater production class. He serves as the play’s director.
The Pittston resident said this is the second time directing a play at Misericordia and referred to “And Then There Were None” as his favorite murder-mystery novel.
“I was actually in it in high school,” he said. “As a university we try to give students different opportunities to try different things, from Shakespeare to classic and from modern to controversial. We try to hit a different layer of show with each one and we were coming up to a murder-mystery, which we hadn’t done one in a few years. We take recommendations from the students and this was a common title from many of them and I said, ‘Well, if you guys want to do it then I certainly want to do it.’”
LaPorte plays the character Toni Marston, a character who kills her two young children while driving recklessly and felt no remorse. Gresh plays Thomas Rogers, a British butler who murders his wife.
For Gresh, taking on a role in a play such as “And Then There Were None” helped him step out of his comfort zone with his acting abilities.
“It’s a different role because I’ve always played more adult characters,” he said. “But, this one is kind of opposite from those characters. I have to be a very prim-and-proper English gentleman whereas, for the most part, I’ve played the role of an American.”
As the production nears its end and opening day approaches, Kelly said he looks forward to seeing everything come together full circle for his actors.
“I get to watch the actors grow and I can relate it to myself in seeing how I can grow with them and seeing what they can take from me,” he said.
LaPorte and Gresh look forward to performing in front of a new crowd than the crowds of close friends and family who came to see their performances during their high school days.
“I’m really excited to be in front of a different audience,” LaPorte said. “Now, it’s completely different because there will be my college peers and professors in the audience.”
With their acting careers still young, Gresh and LaPorte aren’t sure if they’ll stick with the artform through school.
Gresh admitted he will most likely participate in the next Misericordia play.
“As long as I get cast,” he said.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher