Providence Players Rehearsal for MurderBy McCall Doyle • Mar 30th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
James Lee Community Center, Falls Church, VA
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Playing through April 4th
Providence Players has a unique balance of old favorites (Steel Magnolias, Twelfth Night) and little known works (Time of Your Life, Good Help is Hard to Murder)…and Rehearsal for Murder definitely falls into the latter category. Judging from the jam packed and unfortunately sweltering matinee, the unusual plays certainly garner that audience attention.
A play often becomes a movie…in this case, the movie became a play…and the success of that is measured. The film noir style works for the movie, but it’s much more difficult to successfully execute on stage without the long silences and dim lighting becoming tedious.
Famed playwright is on top of the world…new comedy opening on Broadway, and impending marriage to the glamorous leading lady. Unfortunately, the opening is less than stellar and the star is found dead before she has another performance. Heartbroken at his fiancée’s suicide, the playwright sequesters himself in a Maine cabin to ponder the reasons behind her death. A year later, he returns to the theater, gathering his original cast minus one, and everyone becomes a suspect in what increasingly seems like a murder. In true Agatha Christie fashion, suspects are as quickly made as discarded, and nothing is as it seems.
The Playwright, Alex, is portrayed with ease by Carl Nubile. Nubile uses his hypnotic baritone to act as narrator and investigator, and his understated performance lulls everyone into a false sense of security. He grows stronger with emotion and personality as the play progresses, and shares a nice chemistry with ill-fated fiancée Monica Welles (Leta Hall).
Hall is perfectly cast as the movie star turned Broadway actress Monica, glamorous, glib, sophisticated. Despite being featured in flashbacks, Hall manages to overcome the choppiness of the scenes and find a true character, at turns charming and remote.
The costumes (Robbie Snow) were beautifully done in black and white, although it was difficult to discern a specific time period based on them.
Smaller characters that stood out…the always spot-on Patrick David as an aging, egotistical actor with roaming hands…Kate Brown Pernia as producer Bella Lamb gave the aloof socialite warmth and depth. As Alex’s ditsy assistant Sally, Camille Marie Piazza delivers some of the play’s funniest lines with enthusiasm.
There were some issues with blocking. In the attempt to achieve the right tone for the genre, director Chip Gertzog allowed the pacing to become sluggish at times, which came across as low energy from the cast. The silences between lines seemed eternal, allowing sizzling tension to fall a little flat. However, his casting choices for Alex & Monica were excellent, and he succeeded in staging a tricky show.
The free-standing set (Chip Gertzog & John Coscia) was very well done, and the scene changes were seamless.
The “red herring” is also effective…no one sees it coming. Rehearsal for Murder generated a lot of speculation from the audience, with everyone interested in how the mystery would turn out…you’ll have to see it yourself to figure out whodunit?!
The little mystery entitled Rehearsal For Murder has been on the short list of plays that the Providence Players have wanted to produce for at least four or five years. Rehearsal was originally written as a tele-play that was first seen in 1982 and starred Preston (Alex), Lynn Redgrave (Monica), William Daniels (Lamb), Lawrence Pressman (Lloyd), and a very young Jeff Goldblum (Leo). D.D. Brooke’s stage adaptation does a wonderful job (in Alex Dennison’s words) in taking “the audience by the hand and leading them in the wrong direction.” It has been my most sincere pleasure to work with this wonderful cast and production team in bringing this mystery to you and we all sincerely hope that you will enjoy this show.
- Alex Dennison (the Playwright/fiancé of Monica): Carl Nubile
- Monica Welles (Actress-Fiancé of Alex): Leta Hall
- Sally Bean (Secretary): Camille Marie Piazza
- Loretta (Stage Manager/Female Detective): Mary Frances Dini
- Ernie (Ernestine-Stage Doorman): Robbie Snow
- Karen Daniels (an Actress): Caroline Blackwell
- Lloyd Andrews (the Director): Mario Font
- Bella Lamb (the producer): Kate Brown Pernia
- Leo Gibbs (an Actor): Nello DeBlasio
- David Matthews (“lead” Actor): Patrick David
- Male Detective: Christian D. Faulkner
- Frank Heller (an Actor): Dave Schwartz
- Director: Chip Gertzog
- Producer: Barbara Gertzog
- Technical Director: Jim Gertzog
- Tech Crew: Sarah Mournigham, Carl Schwartz, Mark Ames, Jim Gertzog, Michael Clark, Mike Mattheisen, David Whitehead, Dave Sher
- Lighting Design: Jim Gertzog, Sarah Mournigham
- Sound Design: Jim Gertzog
- Stage Manager: Michael Clark
- Assistant Stage Manager: Laura Clark
- Set Design & Construction: Chop Gertzog & John Coscia
- Set Construction Crew: John Coscia, Chip Gertzog, Patrick David, Kevin Harnisch, Chris Deering, David Whitehead, Michael Clark, Laura Clark, Mike Mattheisen, Robbie Snow, Camille Marie Piazza, Mary Frances Dini, Nello DeBlasio, Dave Schwartz, Carl Schwartz, Sarah Mournigham, Ingrid Helvig David, Jim Gertzog
- Properties: Cast and Production Team
- Set Decoration & Dressing: Ingrid Helvig David
- Costume Hair & Make-up Design: Beth Harrison, Robbie Snow
- Costume/Hair & Make-up Assistant: Mary Goss
- House Management: Ann & Matt Ames
- Publicity: Gail Seavey, Barbara & Chip Gertzog
- Playbill: Cindy Paska
- Playbill Advertising: John Coscia, Tina Thronson, Cindy Paska
- Photographer: Chip Gertzog
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3668.