Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Whodunnit's current show, "It's a Wonderful Death", is a follow-up to the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". George Bailey has been shot and finds himself in Purgatory. He finds himself on a game show called To Hell With You and he and the audience need to find out the culprit, or George will end up in hell with you know who. This show is a delightful holiday treat, containing intelligent and entertaining dialogue to boost your sagging spirits at this festive time of the year.
Director/writer Joe Shansky chooses the 7 best people to play the roles in the show. He makes them project their lines in character at all times, paying attention to every detail of their performances and making interact with the audience with ease. Joe chooses a game show format like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and has the host, Satan, question the four suspects. He is helped by Clarence, the fallen angel in this quest. The suspects who shot George include his smiling wife Mary, the horrible skinflint, Mr. Potter, his adoring schoolgirl chum Violet and his absentminded uncle, Billy who has a crow on his shoulder. The laughes keep coming during the show and you get to question the cast during the delicious dinner. Joe is helped out in his task by assistant director, J Schaefer and his stage manager, Shaun McWilliams who are talented actors, too. Bravo on a job well done.
John Los as the evil show host, oozes his sinister charm perfectly. He wears a bright red jacket and carries a pitchfork constantly. His assistant, Clarence is played by high school junior, Taylor Brennan. This is one talented kid who is a triple threat performer who can act, sing and dance wonderfully at a young age. He and John bring the house down with a song from "Damn Yankees" called "The Good Old Days". They sell their song about how wonderful evil can be while they dance up a storm at the same time. Both actors are hilarious, scene stealers in their roles.
Playing the role of George is Steve Oliveira. He does a perfect Jimmy Stewart accent and makes the befuddled man solve his own murder. Steve shows he can play many different kinds of roles and this one shows his range as an actor. His costume is spattered with the blood from the gunshot and is a nice added touch to the proceedings. Molly Lederer as Mary and Fern Rouleau as Violet do great work in their roles as two of the ladies in George's life. These woman not only act wonderfully but have gorgeous voices, too. They sing the poignant, ballad,"I Still Believe" from Miss Saigon perfectly and receive a thunderous ovation at the conclusion of their duet. Two very talented women who can play a variety of parts.
The two remaining suspects are played by Howard Boksenbaum and Niles Welch. Howard makes Uncle Billy into a doddering, forgetful man who shows why he might have shot George. Niles sits in a wheelchair as the nasty, mean hearted, Mr. Potter. His dialogue is booed by the crowd as part of the instructions given by the slide projector. This is used to show the different parts of the game show and instruct the crowd on their various reactions. So for a fun filled evening go to see what happened to George Bailey after the movie ended. ( The gourmet menu of food at the Crowne Plaza show includes boneless breast of chicken, baked scrod, vegetarian lasagne and roast beef while the entrees are served buffet style at the Radisson.) An added treat to the evening is the people at your table. The other nine people at my table included producer, Ann Waterman who is a most gracious hostess, two pretty girls from Cranston, a nice couple, David and Julie from Brockton, ! MA who read about the show on the ProJo website and actress Molly Lederer's boy friend, Andrew and his father, mother and grandmother. We had much laughter at the table, making it into an even more enjoyable evening of fun.