Countdown to Carnage, Agatha Christie style

"I always wanted to work at NYSTI," he said. "This institution represents the pinnacle of the local theater scene."

Dugin got his chance to join the institution when Bunce was casting for the play and thought of Dugin for the role of Lombard, which Bunce himself played in NYSTI's 1984 production of "And Then There Were None."

To make it happen, Dugin took a six-week leave from his teaching job, noting that the Schenectady City School District was "very generous."

"I couldn't be more pleased," he said. "When you get a great job like this, it's something to savor."

Dugin remembers that on his first day on the job, Bunce gathered the actors to talk to them about the story. "He described it as a real roller coaster," Dugin said.

That goes beyond the stress and fear the characters feel as murders keep happening. Bunce said one of the things he really likes about "And Then There Were None" is that the characters undergo a transformation. In fact, on that first day, when he called the actors together, he suggested they all look at their characters and recognize the changes they go through, then bring that to their parts.

Mary Jane Hansen, who plays Vera, the Owens' secretary, said that at the outset, her character was very accommodating. "I could really connect with that, being a pleaser," Hansen said.

As the play progresses, Vera "goes a lot of places emotionally," which proved to be fun for Hansen.

"It's a real chance to just let it go," she said. "There's a lot of screaming and crying."

There's also some romance, as Lombard is "smitten with Vera," according to Dugin. A "man of action, kind of a gun for hire," Lombard enjoys a "tremendous arc" over the course of the story, Dugin said.

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