Mysteries, murders, and the tales of whodunit come alive as South Park Theater presents the energetic, entertaining, and oh so hilarious, Something’s Afoot.
Yes, South Park Theatre kicked off its 2015 season with an amazing satirical look at the classic whodunits of Agatha Cristie, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. This zany musical saw its first production way back in 1972. It thrilled audiences then and when done right, as it had been on this past Thursday evening, it still can today.
Everything takes place in the beautiful country estate of Lord Dudley Rancour in the late spring of 1935. The stage opens with Dudley’s servants preparing for the arrival of weekend guests. We meet the overly stressed Butler, Clive, the new Maid, Lettie, and the Handyman, Flint, AKA the “Gripper”
One by one the guests arrived, from the young, air headed Hope, the always proper Doctor Grayburn, and Nigel Rancour, the nephew and black sheep of the family. Next came the supposed French Grand Dame, Lady Manly Prowe, and the retired Colonel Gillweather from the great war. Last entered the fine lady who would always seek the guilty party, the amazing Miss Tweed.
Each of the illustrious guests had been invited by Lord Rancour, but upon their arrival they are notified that he has been murdered. As the play unfolds each of the servants, and quests are slowly killed off one after another. The ways and means of their individual deaths are ingenious as they are varied. Miss Tweed spends the time leading the remaining members of the party through the clues as they are determined to find out whodunit. The story has its fill of satire and much humor to keep the audience in stitches.
The surprises are many, but rather than reveal the ends of the tale I will refrain from being a spoiler. South Park Theater has done one heck of a job in putting their own spin on this production. Seating had a limit as the theater could hardly be called large. This lent itself to a cozy feel, and assures that all members of the audience will have a good view of the production.
The stage could stand to be a bit larger as the play had quite the number of actors. Now to be fair, they are slowly killed off one by one and so stage room becomes less of an issue as the musical progresses, but initially the cast had some trouble and a prop here or there was knocked about due to the tight space. However, the cast didn’t allow this to disrupt the play and they carried any problems off well turning such difficulties into impromptu moments for further laughs.
Technically, there are a number of effects as each member of the cast dies as a result of foul play: gas, electrocution, bouts of lightning and thunder, gun shots, explosions and even a poisonous dart. These effects are done well, and provide for some nice touches of excitement, but not enough to detract from the singing and the acting which had been done very well.
As I have said, the acting and the singing had been done superbly and there are a great many of actors. Sadly, too many to make mention in this short review, but there were a few stand outs that demand accolades above and beyond.
I enjoyed the black sheep Nephew, Nigel Rancour as played by Seamus Ricci who did a marvelous job of singing and portraying the spoiled, selfish Nephew. He certainly could sing, and act as good money would have had him as the murderer, but when he meets an untimely demise, well, the show must move along. He did a very good job worthy of special note.
Miss Tweed, our super sleuth, was portrayed by Marianne Shaffer who did a bang up job with her singing and acting as well. For those of us who don’t know a great deal about whodunits, she carried us along attempting to narrow down onto the killer, but not before bringing more than a few tears of joy to the audience. She certainly had the experience to put on quite the show and she gave us her all.
Any review of this fine satire would be shortchanged if it did not mention Hilary Caldwell who played the flighty Hope Langdon whose singing and acting were exceptional as indeed were her looks. Yes, this beauty did a fine job, and Miss Caldwell did her best at presenting the twists and turns of this particular character.
The last player that I will mention directly, would be that of Flint, as played by Johnny Terreri. The reason for this would be his most memorable duet with Lettie, as played by Sara Zwirek. The duet brings the audience to tears of laughter as the two concoct the scheme of escape from the Island retreat via a little dinghy (a small boat) and they proceed to sing a song enshrining a little dingy in the memories of all. I assure you that the song “I’ve Got a Little Dinghy” will not be soon forgotten.
Now there really isn’t enough room to carry on any more about all of the characters and the actors who played them, but you can be sure that a night at the South Park Theatre will be one to remember, and worth the price of a ticket. You will find a reason to laugh and I would recommend that you attend. If nothing else, the idea of the Little Dinghy should pique your curiosity. You will enjoy the show!
Special thanks to the South Park Theatre for complimentary press tickets. Something’s Afootcontinues it’s run through May 16th. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Performance Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015