Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Fauquier Community Theatre The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

By • Mar 6th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by Lorraine Hansberry
Fauquier Community Theatre
Fauquier Community Theatre, Warrenton, VA
Through March 14th
$15/$13 Students and Seniors
Reviewed February 27th, 2010

It is a dark and stormy night. It is snowing. The lights are out. There is a gathering at an old mansion…oh, great. Another cliché murder story.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 was just that, and much, much more! With a smooth Irish tenor, a bumbling comedian, a cross-dressing German house maid, and a “Stage Door Slasher,” the cast and crew of the Fauquier Community Theatre took an overdone idea and made it into a fabulous night of theater.

Financial backer Elsa Von Grossenknueten, (and self-proclaimed spy) invites three performers, a producer, a director, a lyricist, and a composer to her mansion for a secret investigation disguised as an audition for a Broadway musical. Mayhem ensues when the Stage Door Slasher, the person who murdered Elsa’s friend Bebe and two other Broadway dancers, is revealed to be in the house amongst the invited guests. After a few murders and multiple trips through the secret passageways of the old home, multiple crimes and criminals are brought to light, raising a “who dunnit” goose chase. Comedy and murder mix quite well in this tale.

As supposed chorus girl Nikki Crandall, Hannah Marie Malinowski was superb!
Though there were only two instances when singing was actually done in a show titled The MUSICAL Comedy Murders, Malinowski profiled herself as a magnificent soprano. Opposite her was Greg Crowe as Eddie McCuen. Though he had an array of hilarious one liners, his comedic timing was a bit rushed and he did not give the audience enough time to absorb the jokes.

Sally Zatkoff did a magnificent job as Helsa Wenzel and her doubles. Taking on one role is hard, but Zatkoff took on three roles and did so with great execution. She made sure that each character she played was distinct and thanks to her excellent acting, it was clear to the audience when she was a new character. Another excellent performance came from Carrie Parsons as the alcoholic lyricist Bernice Roth. She had great projection and commanded attention whenever she was on stage

The set was beautiful! Set designer Ted Ballard did an exquisite job creating the mansion library on stage. There were trap doors all over the place that were excellently concealed, and plenty of places to enter and exit from onto the scene. In fact, there were several trap doors that were revealed in act two that were not noticeable during act one. Light designer Tim Kirk and light operator Rita Okafer did a great job with the lighting. Since a large part of the show was done when the room lights were off (or out), they had to create a way for the scene to be seen in the dark, and they were able to pull it off very well.

Though the title was some what misleading and the show one huge cliché, the cast and crew of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 proved to be fantastically comedic and were “divoon. Simply divoon!”

Photo Gallery

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Photos provide by Fauquier Community Theatre.


  • Helsa Wenzel: Sally Zatkoff
  • Elsa Von Grossenknueten: Lori Muhlstein
  • Michel Kelly: Joe Bersack
  • Patrick O’Reilly: Sean Bittick
  • Ken De La Maize: Greg Powell
  • Nikki Crandall: Hannah Marie Malinowski
  • Eddie McCuen: Greg Crowe
  • Marjorie Baverstock: Mary Brick
  • Roger Hopewell: Ken Clayton
  • Bernice Roth: Carrie Parsons

Production Staff

  • Directors: Scott Olson, Sallie Willows
  • Producer: Evelyn Rice
  • Stage Manager: Lindy Bersack
  • Costume Design: Hannah Ballinger, Susane Noé
  • Set Design: Ted Ballard
  • Set Construction: Ted Ballard
  • Set Painting: Ted Ballard, Cast
  • Set Decoration/Dressing: Susan Noé
  • Properties: Dee Faulconer
  • Light Design: Tim Kirk
  • Light Operator: Rita Okafer
  • Sound Design: Lynn Lacey
  • Sound Operator: Annie Rush
  • Makeup Design: Cast
  • Hair Design: Teena Stevic
  • Special Effects: Kevin Kirby
  • Fight Choreography: Kevin C. Robertson
  • Wardrobe Mistress: Hannah Ballinger
  • Seamstress: Hannah Ballinger
  • Programs: Evelyn Rice
  • Posters: Sarah Weathers
  • Photography: Hilary and Kevin Tupper
  • Opening Night Reception: Laurie Bersack
  • Box Office Manager: Christie Clark
  • House Manager: Evelyn Rice

Disclaimer: Fauquier Community Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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One Response »

  1. Jose,
    Thank you for the wonderful review! We truly appreciate it!

    Sallie Willows – Co-director of Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940’s