Jan Sanderson had a nervous breakdown but, worry not, for she’s getting better.

Jan Sanderson had a nervous breakdown but, worry not, for she’s getting better.

To complete her recovery Jan’s husband, an archaeologist named Greg Sanderson, accompanies her to a solitary farmhouse near an archaeological site. There he can keep working knowing the only cause for a relapse would come in the monotonous chirp-chirp of a cricket.

Then Greg’s sister, Laura Sanderson, drops by, leading Jan to believe the two may be abnormally endeared to one another.

And, as it turns out, there are other phantom-like things lurking in the dark among the crickets – George Willoughby, a cantankerous old drunk next door, among them.

With his help, Jan might just turn trigger-happy.

“You name it, this play’s got it; things blow up, shotguns go off, people are poisoned and knifed in the back,” said Drew Collier, who is directing “I’ll be Back Before Midnight” presented by the City Theatre of Independence. The play, a comedy/thriller written by Peter Colley, debuts tonight. “It’s a very well-known, little-known play. It had a great run in Canada, and it got a lot of play in Great Britain, where it’s very popular from a community theater perspective.”

Fresh off an acting stint in the CTI production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Collier is making his first stab at directing for the company. Collier was a longtime stage manager and assistant director for New Jersey’s famous Paper Mill Playhouse. He said the community theater, which is now a professional venue, often attracted the best of off-Broadway.

“When I say I’ve got the best crew and four great actors working with me on (“I’ll be Back Before Midnight”), you can take my word for it,” Collier said. “They’ve all taken the characters in directions I didn’t originally think of.”

Starring in “I’ll be Back Before Midnight” are Jackie Coomes as Jan, Stephen Howard as Greg, Kevin Elmore as George and playing Laura is Sarah Tuttle; her Laura is an icy blonde reminiscent of Hitchcock’s femme fatale.

“I’m very manipulative with Greg and Jan and someone who likes to place everything to my advantage,” said Tuttle, who is starring in her first production for CTI. A theater minor at Park University, Tuttle was drawn to CTI by its reputation. “I have to thank Drew for his great direction to help me mold this character.”

Although Collier would not say who, he said only one actor escapes alive. In some situations, he said the audience may be astonished to find who survives and who doesn’t.

“La mano de dios,” Collier said. “It’s what this play is all about.”

Translated: The hand of God.



“I’ll be Back Before Midnight”

Presented by the City Theatre of Independence

Produced by Connie and Dave Mayta

When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8 and 2 p.m. Nov. 9

Where: Powerhouse Theatre in the Roger T. Sermon Center, 201 N. Dodgion in Independence

Cost: $8; $7 for seniors

For more information, please call 816-325-7367