Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 keeps audience guessing throughout
Spring City, TN — TVT(Tennessee Valley Theatre) in Spring City presents The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop.
Another great production from the team at Tennessee Valley Theatre. Director Dan Frank and the cast do a great job. Cast members included Mike Jackson, Nigel Chadwick, Leah Powers, Mary Pendergrass, Tony McCuiston, Jamie McIntosh, Caroline Powers, Kathy Soja, Cameron Cleveland, Amberle Davis.
I really liked the performance of Cameron Cleveland, who did an over the top director Ken De La Maize. Tony McCuiston gave one of my favorite performances as Roger Hopewell a songwriter with an interesting personality. Young Muhaley Reed did a fine job as young field agent for Naval Intelligence(Nikki) undercover as chorus girl. As a whole, all the cast members did a great job on this one.
Helsa: Leah Powers
Elsa: Mary Pendergrass
Marjorie: Kathy Soja
Nikki: Mahaley Reed
Bernice: Caroline Powers
Sgt. Kelly: Nigel Chadwick
O’Reilly: Alex Dufty
Ken: Cameron Cleveland
Roger: Tony McCuiston
Eddie: Jamie McIntosh
Jerry Scroggins: backstage, stage hand
The play summary:
The team of actors and directors from a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were murdered by the mysterious “Stage Door Slasher”) assemble for a backer’s audition of their new show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy Lady. The house is filled with sliding panels, secret passageways and a German maid.
This play kept up a good pace and had more twists and turns than the hidden walkways within the house. There are several unusual characters assembled for the play, including
The play takes place in a mansion in Chappaqua, New York in December 1940 and centers around the library. The mansion is owned by Elsa Von Grossenknueten, and her maid, Helsa Wenzel.
In the opening scene, Helsa is killed by a masked figure. We also see Elsa talking to a police officer, Michael Kelly, about some sort of undercover scheme. Both are unaware of the maid’s murder.
The next morning, back from the dead, only not Helsa and with entirely different personality that changed overnight. The guests Elsa has invited soon begin to arrive. They have been invited for a backer’s audition to the Musical White House Merry-Go-Round.
The first of the invited guests is an Irish tenor named Patrick O’Reilly. He’s quickly followed by a theatre director named Ken De La Maize, and a singer/dancer named Nikki Crandall. Nikki is followed in by a young (and bad) comedian named Eddie McCuen, who takes an instant liking to Nikki.
While talking, Eddie realizes that everyone coming to the house, including Marjorie Baverstock, the producer, and Roger Hopewell and Bernice Roth, the writers, were all part of the creative team that made Manhattan Holiday, in which The Stage Door Slasher murdered three women. Eddie is afraid and quickly decides to leave, but changes his mind and stays after the rest of the team enters and convinces him to stay.
After things get underway, Marjorie is murdered and the body of Helsa is discovered. After a series of dizzy conversations, multiple trips through secret doorways leading to a labyrinth of hidden passageways, multiple crimes, and criminals are revealed. Eventually after much murderous mayhem the Stage Door Slasher is revealed through deciphering a coded notebook.
A lot of twists and turns and several people who were not who they said they were. The unraveling of the mystery was quite entertaining.