Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Robinson Secondary School The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

By • Nov 19th, 2007 • Category: Cappies

Haven’t you heard? Ken De La Maize is directing a new musical, calling for a lyricist and pianist, some actors, and of course a musical comedy would not be complete without its own homicidal killer. Robinson Secondary School is the perfect place for the ensuing chaos of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 premiered on Broadway in 1987. The play revolves around a classic who-dun-it murder with a farcical twist. A group of theater people auditioning for an upcoming show realize that the Stage Door Slasher, an elusive murderer of chorus girls, happens to reside amongst them. The plot journeys through a hilarious overload of twists and turns resolved by final unmasking of the Stage Door Slasher.

Comedian turned actor Eddie McCuen (Joshua Berrent) encased his corny jokes with a lovable flair. He added over-the-top animation and total commitment to his character, energetically leaping over chairs and under pianos. By act II, Berrent developed his character skillfully into a dynamic hero.

Pianist Roger Hopewell (Michael Criste) became the show-stopper of the evening. Criste’s flamboyant air, complete with his side-tipped beret and lingering cigarette smoke, along with his spastic temper tantrums captivated the majority of laughs. Hostess for the evening Elsa Von Grossenkneuten (Mariah Proctor) exemplified eager tenacity with a variety of voice inflections. Speaking one minute with a composed manner, and the next with squealing hysteria. Impostor Helsa “Dieter” Wenzel (Philip Canniff) portrayed his cross-gendered character with side-splitting stage presence, decked out with high heels, nylons, and a wig.

Although there were some pacing and projection problems early in the show by the second act, the high-octane jokes and physical gimmicks left the audience in stitches. Notably, the “dead” performers did not break concentration or character, a difficult feat considering the uproarious reactions from the audience.

Although there was some persistent microphone feedback, it did not take away from an otherwise seamless production. The set was to die for, literally. The attention to detail left no nook unembellished, such as the windows painted to convey a frosty winter blizzard. The massive, swinging bookcases/secret passageways were adeptly constructed by the set crew, and maneuvered by the timely and inconspicuous stage crew.

Overall, Robinson Secondary rose well above par to deliver a killer rendition of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

by Janice Van of South County

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