Theatre Mirror Reviews - "HANGING CHAD"
"What Happened in Boston, Willie"
Reviews of Current Productions
note: entire contents copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Marley Bridges Theater Company's current show at the Newport Art Museum is "Hanging Chad", a 90 minute interactive murder mystery. Proud to be an American? It's 1924, the country is in the depths of Prohibition but this year also marks the first presidential election in which woman can vote! Attend this special Presidential debate at the Art Association of Newport to hear Republican candidate Calvin Coolidge, Democratic candidate John W. Davis, and Progressive candidate Robert M. LaFollette speak. When expected guests don't arrive and unexpected ones do, the evening shifts courses: dirty laundry is aired, rumors are spread and someone's attack campaign goes a little too far! A guest is discovered dead and you must question the suspects, search the galleries for clues, and figure out the murderer's identity. Work fast to cover up the scandal before the authorities arrive! Writer and director Patrick Grimes assembles a topnotch 7 member cast to recreate these characters from days of yore. From the moment you enter the museum, you are greeted by Maude Elliot, the head of the art museum, yelled at by candidate Robert LaFollette, entertained by Vincent and Helen Astor, meet Governor William Flynn and wealthy dowager Alva Vanderbilt Belmont also crashing the debate is Communist candidate Zebulon Foster. Each performer playing these roles stays in character during the 90 minute show where the audience wanders through the museum searching for clues and questioning suspects. It is a delightful and entertaining way to spend an evening in Newport for the summer, trying to be Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew. You are given literature about the candidates and stickers with their logos on them, too.
The audience was comprised of various age people who enjoyed grilling the performers, keeping them on their toes all night long. Since this is a murder mystery, I can not explain too many details about the case. However I can say who these talented performers are: Maude is Cindy Killavey, The Astors are Tom and Jessica Chace, the Governor is Jonny Larason, LaFollette is John McKenna, Mrs. Belmont is Nikki Lawrence and last but not least is Patrick Grimes doing triple duty in this show by also playing Zebulon. The twists and turns of the story keep you entertained, laughing merrily even though someone gets killed. Having been a fan of the Hardy Boys in my youth, this kept me guessing as to who the killer was until the very last minute. So if you are up to solving a crime in historic Newport, be sure to catch "Hanging Chad" which runs till next month.
HANGING CHAD (23 July, 6 & 20 August)
Marley Bridges Theatre Company, Newport Art Museum, 76 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI
1(401)848-8200 or www.newportmurdermystery.com