Saturday, September 17, 7 p.m.
Muscatine High School Auditorium, 2705 Cedar Street, Muscatine IA
With the mystery thriller produced as a special, 75th-anniversary tribute to the publication of Mickey Spillane's first novel I, the Jury, famed novelist, screenwriter, and playwright Max Allan Collins presents a one-night-only staging of Encore for Murder: The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, a special September 17 event held in the Muscatine High School Auditorium. Presented in radio-show format, this is the first production of the show in Iowa following stagings at the International Mystery Writers Festival at Owensboro, Kentucky, and Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Murray Theatre in Clearwater, Florida, with the Saturday-night presentation, like the previous ones, starring Gary Sandy of WKRP in Cincinnati fame as Spillane's iconic private investigator Mike Hammer.
In Encore for Murder, Hammer, the toughest P.I. of all, draws a seemingly routine assignment: playing bodyguard to diva Rita Vance on the eve of her big Broadway comeback. But Rita is an old flame of Hammer's, and when their romance is rekindled, the detective finds the actress facing death threats and himself the target of one hit man after another. When the actress disappears, the show must go on, which with Hammer means swift, violent retaliation. While the cops and feds go down a false trail, Hammer seeks to make a rescue before Rita's curtain comes down. But first, he must make sense of a mystery that takes him from a Soho art gallery to a mountain lodge, from Little Italy to a waterfront confrontation that is way, way off Broadway. Working from the plot for an unwritten novel found in the files of the late Mickey Spillane, author Max Allan Collins has adapted his novel into compelling noir thriller that is vintage Mike Hammer, and vintage Mickey Spillane, all the way. Upon Spillane's death in 2006, Collins developed the unfinished Hammer drafts including a single page written by Spillane with the plot for this production, which will feature actors from Muscatine High School, Muscatine Community College, and the Pearl City Players, as well as local business personalities.
Hailed in 2004 by Publisher's Weekly as "a new breed of writer," Muscatine resident Collins is a frequent Mystery Writers of America "Edgar" nominee who has earned an unprecedented 15 Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations for his historical thrillers, winning for his Nathan Heller novels True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991). His graphic novel Road to Perdition was adapted into 2002's Academy Award-winning film directed by Sam Mendes and staring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Jude Law, and Collins' many comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy; his own Ms. Tree; Batman; and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, based on the hit TV series for which he has also written video games, jigsaw puzzles, and a bestselling series of novels (for Pocket Books) that has sold more than 1.5 million copies in America alone.
Collins has been termed "the novelization king" by Entertainment Weekly, with tie-in books on the USA Today bestseller list nine times and the New York Times list twice. His movie novels include Saving Private Ryan, Windtalkers, Waterworld, I Love Trouble, Daylight, I Spy, U.S. Marshals, Air Force One, Maverick, U-571, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King and The Pink Panther. He also wrote the prose version of the film script based on his own Road to Perdition. Meanwhile, Collins' one-man show Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life was nominated for an Edgar for Best Play of 2004 by the Mystery Writers of America, with its film version, written and directed by Collins, receiving its world premiere in Rock Island in February of 2006.
In addition to playing beloved program director Andy Travis on the TV sit-com WKRP in Cincinnati from 1978 to 1982, Gary Sandy has enjoyed a successful stage career that includes serving as replacement to Tony winner Kevin Kline as The Pirate King in Broadway's The Pirates of Penzance. In 1986, Sandy replaced Tony Roberts as Mortimer Brewster in the 50th-anniversary production of Arsenic and Old Lace opposite Jean Stapleton and Marion Ross, continuing the role in the North American tour, and beginning in 2001, he starred opposite Ann-Margret in a stage production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas that toured for two years.
Encore for Murder: The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer will be performed in the Muscatine High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. on September 17, general admission is $15, and $50 premium seating includes an after-party at the nearby Merrill Hotel featuring dessert, prosecco, and appearances by Collins and Sandy. For more information, visit MuscatineArtCenter.org, and for tickets, visit MACFriends.booktix.com.