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This article by Jack Florek was prepared for the February 12, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Yardley Players: `10 Little Indians’

Rupert Hinton is living proof of a slightly skewed

aphorism: Old actors never die, they just get killed again and again.

This is particularly true if they’re starring, as Hinton is, in that

chestnut of a thriller, "Ten Little Indians." Hinton plays

Judge Wargrave in the Yardley Players’ production of "Ten Little

Indians" that continues at the Kelsey Theater, on the campus of

Mercer County College, on Friday and Saturday, February 14 and 15,

at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 16 at 2 p.m.

"I’m a bad guy and I actually get killed twice in this play,"

says Hinton, who was bitten by the acting bug while growing up near

London, England. Hinton’s mother worked as a tutor and librarian and

his father was a farmer. At age 10, the family moved from the country

into London. Hinton graduated from University College in Wales in

1979 and moved to the United States in the early 1980s.

"I really just wanted to see the country," he says, "but

then I decided to stay. I got a visa because I was a computer programmer

at a time when they were hard to find. It was a fairly straightforward

process."

Following his marriage, theater was placed on the back-burner and

family and the work-a-day world took priority. Rupert and Jennifer

Hinton are the parents of three children, now in grades 12, 10, and

5.

But last year, after 20 years away from the footlights, Hinton made

his return with the Yardley Players Theater Company’s production of

"The Mousetrap."

"What I had missed most was the collaborative nature of being

a part of a performance," he says. "In community theater the

actors help out with everything, from taking the flats off the truck

to painting the walls."

Still the experience held some unanticipated surprises. "It wasn’t

quite like riding a bicycle," says Hinton. "After so much

time I was a different person, with a bit more life experience. I

spend more time listening to the other people on stage than I used

to." He also noticed a different range of characters that he was

being offered to play. "Twenty years ago I tended to play youngish

guys dealing with big difficulties," he says. "Now I am more

likely to play their parents."

"Ten Little Indians," based on Agathie Christie’s whodunit

"And Then There Were None," tells the story of 10 guests,

each guilty of a murder for which they escaped prosecution, who are

gathered together for a weekend at a British country mansion. The

thrills come when their mysterious host, unseen and unknown, takes

justice into his own hands by murdering his guests one by one, according

to the lines of the Mother Goose nursery rhyme that hangs over the

fireplace. The play has been adapted for movies three times, in the

1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. "The original stage version had a sad ending,"

says Hinton. "But once the American movie came out with the happy

ending, it got grafted onto the end of the stage play as well."

Hinton, who lives in Princeton, works in Manhattan as a technology

manager at Thomson Financial. His children Tim (a senior at Notre

Dame High school) and Emily are performing in the school musical "Joseph

and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

"It’s fun because we can share rehearsal stories at the dinner

table," says Hinton. "They are both a little more talented

than their dad." And while most members of the family enjoy watching

him as he performs, there is a dissenter among the family. His youngest

daughter, Elizabeth, informed him she would skip "Ten Little Indians"

— "she doesn’t want to see another play where everyone dies,"

he says.

— Jack Florek

Ten Little Indians, Kelsey Theater, Mercer County

College, 609-584-9444. Yardley Players production. $12. Friday

and Saturday, February 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 16,

at 2 p.m.


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