First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Mansion in Oakbrook Presents Agatha Christie’s The Secret Council

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James Lewis (American Detective) Melanie Keller (Tuppence)

David Rice, Co-founder and Executive Director of First Folio Theatre, has created a World-premiere exciting thriller mystery comedy rethinking Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary into Agatha’s Christie’s The Secret Council. Agatha Christie according to Guinness World Records is the best-selling fiction writer of all time. This play displays Christie’s genius for plot twists and turns and some romance. It is a fun comedic portrayal that delighted the full-house audience present on opening night. It opened on Saturday, January 29th, and runs through Sunday, February 27th.  If you have not had the opportunity to see a First Folio production you must take advantage of the 123 seat theater venue that puts you wonderfully close to the stellar actors on stage. The theater is housed in the Grand Mayslake Peabody Tudor Revival Mansion at 1717 West 31st Street  (31st St. & Rt. 83) in Oakbrook, Illinois. 

Tina Munoz Pandya (Multiple Roles) and Melanie Keller (Tuppence)

First Folio Theatre is a top-grade group of professional actors whose stated mission is to “present intimate productions of classic and contemporary works.” Joe Foust plays multiple roles with presence and ease. Tina Muñoz Pandya is a very sexy spy. Elizabeth Ledo is very believable as Mike the bartender. The actors’ versatility is astounding as they seamlessly take on multiple roles throughout the production and tongue-in-cheek poke fun at their many transformations. They strive to create unique theatrical experiences for their audiences. First Folio is a non-profit actor’s equity troupe that under Rice’s direction has been honored with forty Jeff Nominations and seven Jeff Awards for Excellence in Chicago Theater.

Melanie Keller (Tuppence) James Lewis (American) Elizabeth Ledo (Mike Barkeep) Andres Enriquez (Tommy)

This drama is directed by Brigitte Ditmars and features Artistic Associate Melanie Keller who also plays the part of Tuppence on her first adventure. The clever set design by Angela Wever Miller moved about by the actors allows the audience to engage their imaginations. Favorite, classic Agatha Christie characters Tommy Beresford played by the dashing Andrés Enriquez and Prudence (Tuppence) Cowley are good friends who reunite after their World War I service and join forces to become super sleuths searching for Miss Rosey Bottoms, an American passenger, who had survived the sinking of the Lusitania. The hero duo in their quest to unravel this mystery encounter a dead suspect. Conspiracies galore abound involving the United States and British Governments. The Bolsheviks and an entire corp of foreign agents are determined to destroy and overthrow democracy. The Bolsheviks heading the Secret Council create chaos reminiscent of the recent interference and allusions to elections in our own politics. This is a fun evening of witty repartee. The actors engage us in a truly wonderful respite from daily dramas and troubling realities.

Melanie Keller (Tuppence) and Andres Enriquez (Tommy)

I suggest you arrive early enough to take a tour of Mayslake Peabody Estate’s interior architecture and art displays. This Tudor mansion is a treasure trove rich with Chicago history. In 1993, the Dupage Forest Preserve purchased the 87 acres including Mayslake Hall, Portiuncula Chapel, surrounding lakes, and an oak savanna making it accessible to the general public. Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, a national leader in the Democratic Political Party and captain in the coal industry commissioned famed Chicago architect, Benjamin Marshall, to build this magnificent summer retreat in 1919. It was named after his first wife and daughter, Mayslake Peabody Estate. Unfortunately, a year after its completion in 1921 Peabody died of a heart attack during a fox hunt on the property. The 840-acre property was later sold to the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart order of Friars Minor in 1926. 

Melanie Keller (Tuppence) Joe Foust (multiple Roles) Andres Enriquez (Tommy)

The Franciscan chapel is now the First Folio Great Hall Theater. Unlimited Free parking is available. Running time is 2 hours with one intermission. Proof of vaccination and booster is required. You must mask up for entrance and the performance.

Tina Munoz Pandya (Rita) James Lewis (American) Melanie Keller (Tuppence)

Preview tickets are $29. Regular-priced tickets are $49 Wednesdays and Thursdays (seniors are $44), and $59 on Fridays through Sundays (seniors are $54). Student prices are $20 for all performances. Two-show subscriptions are available for $42-67. Season subscriptions and individual tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 630-986-8067 or online at The Box Office opens Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is closed all major holidays. For further information contact First Folio Theatre.

Photos: Courtesy of Tom McGrath


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