Asolo Rep Dials up Some Changes With Dial M for Murder

The classic thriller offers some new attitudes along with an elaborate plot.

By Kay Kipling March 25, 2024

Brooke Turner and Tony Carter in Asolo Rep's Dial M for Murder.

It’s probably impossible for anyone who’s seen the classic 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film Dial M for Murder (starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings) not to compare and contrast Asolo Rep’s stage production of the same name. Like many of Hitchcock’s films, Murder became iconic, and it’s easy to forget that the movie sprang from a stage play by Frederick Knott.

But even if you recall the film version quite clearly, there’s something about seeing a thriller (and Murder is a thriller, not a mystery, per se) live onstage—the carefully placed clues, the menacing action, etc. And most viewers will probably be fine with the changes playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has made to the original.

The story still takes place in 1952 London, where Tony Wendice (Tony Carter), a tennis player in the film but a failed writer in this version, is scheming to murder his unfaithful wife, Margot (Brooke Turner). He married her for her money in the first place, and the discovery that she’s taken a lover, a thriller writer (a male named Mark in the movie but here a female writer, Maxine, played by Zia Lawrence), just determines him to keep his hands on her fortune while avoiding an untidy divorce.

Turner and Mikhail Roberts in Dial M for Murder.

To that end, he’s concocted an elaborate scheme involving an old college acquaintance, Lesgate (Mikhail Roberts). Lesgate’s shady past and present financial circumstances make him a good candidate to commit murder, leaving Tony to enjoy Margot's money safe and sound afterwards.

Ruthless cad though he is, it’s fun to watch Wendice/Carter spinning his web, charming and threatening by turns, especially when something goes very wrong and he has to improvise. And it’s good to see intended victim Margot think and speak up a bit more for herself than in the film.  (Also, eye candy to view Turner, a third-year FSU/Asolo MFA candidate, in Tracy Dorman’s costumes, which range from a flirtatious off-the-shoulder gown to more practical attire.)

Director Celine Rosenthal, with fight choreographer Mark Rose, has staged the action tightly, allowing for both tension and some more comedic moments with the entrance of Scotland Yard Inspector Hubbard (Mark Benninghofen) on the scene (displaying a gait and posture that reminded me of his role earlier this season in the Asolo’s Inherit the Wind). And the set, by Antonio Troy Ferron, serves well as both an upscale Maida Vale apartment and a rather claustrophobic atmosphere to set violence in.

Turner, Zia Lawrence and Mark Benninghofen in Dial M.

Despite Hatcher’s changes to the characters and some of their attitudes, there’s really nothing all that new to this adaptation. And in the end, that makes sense. As Hatcher says in the printed program, “Dial M is a kind of comfort food.” We can watch a crime being committed in the safety of the theater, without caring overmuch about the characters, knowing that things will all come right in the end and that everybody onstage will be helping themselves to that well-laden drinks cart with frequency and aplomb. Better make it a double.

Dial M for Murder continues through April 25. For tickets, call (941) 351-8000 or visit



Show Comments