Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

Review by Paola Hornbuckle

Cast of "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940"
Coronado Playhouse presents The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop, a quaint murder mystery that introduces many familiar and stereotypical, but still charming, characters that we associate with the black and white film era. Set in the 1940s, with World War II in the background, it combines a little Nazi intrigue with Broadway show-business. As a group of performers, directors, and musical composers are set to audition in a mansion on the East Coast, a blizzard cuts them off from the rest of the world and there is a murderer in the house. The characters hammed it up, at times bordering on camp, but it worked for this production. There was a lot of physical comedy that was well-timed and well-choreographed, as well as charming musical numbers typical of that era, all original compositions by Erich Einfall.

Lisa Ritz (Helsa Wenzel) did an outstanding job as a German maid, her accent was impressive. Andrey Payne (Eddie McCuen) and Rebecca Lundy (Nikki Crandall) did a fine job as the fresh-faced, na├»ve comic and the brave and resourceful secret agent. Sean S. Doughty (Roger Hopewell) and Nicol Reeves (Bernice Roth) were quite funny as the decadent show business pair, he worldly-wise and witty and she a complete lush. Brian Evans (Patrick O’Reilly) with a great Irish accent, Terence J. Burke (Michael Kelly) as the serious detective, and Nick Steklov (Ken De La Maize) as the narcissistic and charming director all played their roles effectively and with relish. Peg Daly (Elsa Von Grossenknueten) and Julia Foster (Marjorie Baverstock) were grand as the grande dames and theatre benefactors.

True that the characters are a bit two-dimensional as is typical of this genre, but the jokes and the fast moving action keeps the play moving forward, although a bit slow in the first act, it really picks up in the second. The plot is not as predictable as most murder mysteries and has a few surprises up its sleeve. The set is absolutely fabulous, designed by Daniel Verango Jr, it’s quite colorful and original, and he really used the secret passageways well. Directed by Nick Reeves, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is playing until May 6. For more information go to www.CoronadoPlayhouse.com.

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