Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Rehearsal for Murder"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2008 by Tony Annicone

"Rehearsal for Murder"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of The Players' 100th season is a murder mystery called "Rehearsal for Murder". It was originally a teleplay written by Richard Levinson and William Link and adapted for the stage by D.D. Brooke. This thrilling "theatrical" mystery takes place in a theatre where your theatre becomes the set for the play. Alex Dennison, the playwright turns on the stage work light and prepares for the first reading of his new play. He spent the last year living in Maine and his new secretary, Sally Bean who has trouble with directions in the big city of New York, appears with the scripts. Alex sets up the story by narrating it and thru flashbacks of his show one year ago. The three actors, the producer and the director connected with that show come onto the stage and under their humorous and utterly real theatrical talk, tensions grow. We discover everyone connected with this play was involved with another play by the same playwright. At its opening night, exactly a year ago and in the same theatre, the beautiful leading lady and movie star, Monica Wells who was also Alex's fiancee, supposedly committed suicide the day before their wedding. However as Act 1 ends, Alex proclaims Monica was murdered and by somebody on the stage with the music from the movie ''Psycho" playing in the background. As these five people start by reading scenes from the new play, each one's connection to the murder begin to unfold. The growing tension reaches the boiling point with surprising revelations, countered by others even more surprising. The dazzling, yet basically logical twists build to a climax and solution that are theatrically stunning. Director Stephen R. Kay keeps his fellow 13 actors in line with taut direction and plenty of twists and turns to make even the best Sherlock Holmes want-to-be's head spinning with Alex's accusations being acted out with all five people. He also plays a surprise guest who appears during the last scene to wrap things up neatly. The opening night audience loved the suspenseful story and the acting prowess of all the performers which kept everyone on the edge of their seats all night long because the show's dialogue has a special sting of wit and reality .

Stephen is aided in his task by hard working stage manager Lydia K. Matteson who plays the role of Loretta, the stage manager in the show as a voice over and is also the producer of this show. Be sure to contact Lydia to become a member of this theatre club which is celebrating its hundredth season. Stephen and Lydia also designed the set with lighting design by Ruth Fagan, sound and technical direction by Michael Giraud, costumes by Sue Bergeron and props by Linda LeNrun and Krysten Oates. The massive role of the director/narrator, Alex is excellently played by Dennis Bouchard. He tells the flashback story emotionlessly at first and then at the death of Monica the tears flow forth beautifully. Alex accuses each person connected with his first show, the leading man is accused of putting the moves on Monica, while the director is, too, the producer wants to insure the show against the not showing up of the leading lady, while her understudy and her husband are accused of poisoning her tea so the understudy could go on. Dennis handles his enormous amounts of dialogue with ease, setting up the many twists and turns to lead to a logical conclusion and making sure you obtain all the clues along the way, too. He is used to handling huge roles having directed him as Oscar Madison in "Odd Couple" and as Max Prince in "Laughter on the 23rd Floor". He dedicates his performance to his twin sister Denise who died in October.

Angie Margiotta is also excellent as Monica Wells, the leading lady actress. Angie is a gorgeous brunette who makes the most of her stage time but once you think her character is dead, she pops up in flashback scenes. She is always dressed in red which reminds you of blood. The most stunning scene is when she is slapped in the face by her leading man Ted Gavriluk in the Let's Murder Jessica script. The other performers do wonderful work in their roles which I will describe so as not to give away many details of the mystery script. Ted appears in a blue smoking jacket at the start of the show, appears at the party and then for the reading of the Jessica script which is all a plot to capture the true murderer. Ted plays David Matthews who likes to smoke, Laura Coughlin plays Karen Daniels who goes from sweet ingenue to sexy leading lady in one year and her "husband" who is the comic in the show, Leo Gibbs is played by David Olsen. The hard as nails producer in the show, Bella Lamb is played by Roz Remington while her real life son, Sandy plays a mystery man, turning in a powerful performance. Marshall Williams who is a theatre critic for the Westerly Sun plays Lloyd Andrews, the director of the show. He has a puking scene which is very funny. Another scene stealer is played by Bonnie DerManelian as the hick secretary, Sally Bean from Maine who sets up the scenes to be read and buys coffee and doughnuts for the cast. Rounding out the cast is Ryan Hanley as the cop, Richard Nardella as Mr. Santoro, the furniture deliverer with wonderful Brooklyn accent who brings Monica's apartment furniture to the theatre to trap the killer and Ron Mutton, the stage doorman who jumps at everyone's entrance. Ron is a well seasoned actor who I directed in "Blithe Spirit". So for a fantastic murder mystery that will entrance you, be sure to catch "Rehearsal for Murder". Tell them Tony sent you. Call Lydia at 273-0590 to join The Players.

"Rehearsal for Murder" (6 - 14 December)
THE PLAYERS
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1(401) 273-0590

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