Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Whodunnit's latest show is set in the Arizona Territory in the 1870's and is called "The Case of the Smokin' Gun". The town of Shut-eye waits for the arrival of their governor and music, mishaps and mayhem follow this murder mystery from start to finish. Ann Waterman once again writes a clever and witty script set in the wild west with 7 talented cast members filling each of their roles while the audience enjoys their antics and a delicious meal, too.
The 7 well drawn characters are involved in the mysterious death of one of them and you see the relationships through a series of flashback scenes. Sheriff Gunn greets the audience and runs the interogation of the suspects. Niles Welch plays the role with a lot of gusto and bravado convincing everyone he is the man in charge. His youthful deputy is played by Shaun McWilliams. He makes a strong showing in his role as Horse Bluster. He does a great job in his acting debut with this group and dances comically in the chorus numbers. Veteran actor, J Schaefer plays the shady governor, Grafton Drygulch wonderfully. He gives the character the depth needed to pull off this nasty character. His malpropisms with hair and heir and with attache and ashtray are comic gems in this script. His counterpoint number with Ann called "I'm Gonna Get it Today" shows the way a man and a woman think their relationship is going to be. (Romance for the woman and a quickie for the man)
The two women in the show are Molly Lederer as Satira Drygulch and Ann Waterman as Dottie Bloomers. Molly does a dynamic job as the governor's verbally abused wife. Her strong performance includes wonderful facial expressions and great delivery of her lines. Her song "For Better or Worse" is a hoot. It warns all women to watch out for the lines men feed them to get them into bed. The male dancers help make the song comic with their funny mistimed dance steps. Ann plays the call girl barkeep. She wears a long dark wig and delivers her slatternly lines with ease. She's written the clever dialogue for years and is now delivering it on stage. Ann makes her stage debut as the fallen woman in this show and sings her song with J wonderfully.
The other two suspicious characters in town are the card dealer, Tombstone Ted played by Joe Shansky ( a Richard Boone, Paladin look alike) and the gay biographer, Norm DePlume played by Steve Oliveira. Joe wears an ever moving eyepatch and plays the role like a gruff pirate. He convinces the audience with his great characterization and facial expressions. Steve is hilarious as the lisping, mincing book writer. He proves he can handle a variety of roles having played an evil mad dog killer, detective in another show. The set design is by Jenna Waldman. Her maroon saloon bar and sign and fences around the performers brings a bit of the west to RI audiences. So for a clever murder mystery with great food, be sure to catch, "The Case of the Smokin' Gunn". I solved the mystery and won the prize on opening night! (At the Radisson Hotel, you get a huge salad, a buffet consisting of baked schrod, roast beef, squash and tomato, red bliss potatoes, fruit and chocolate cake for dessert.)