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A Party to Murder ~ The Little Theatre of Alexandria

Jordan Wright
October 23, 2016
Special to The Alexandria Times
 

L to R: Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), Laura Peterson (Mrs. McKnight/Valerie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles). Photo credit John Olmstead

L to R: Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), Laura Peterson (Mrs. McKnight/Valerie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles). Photo credit John Olmstead

Oh, how I love it when The Little Theatre does a murder mystery – especially when it’s the time of the year when things go bump in the night.  And you’ll know you’re in for a spooktacular adventure when the sign outside the theater reads, “Warning: This show contains special effects such as thunder, lightning, gun shots and explosions.”  Oh, my!  Even with this foreshadowing of a peculiar night with peculiar people, I’d advise you to hold tight to your seat and put your brain in plot-solving mode. 

R to L: Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles), Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy).  Photo credit - Doug Olmsted

R to L: Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles), Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy). Photo credit – Doug Olmsted

Director Jim Howard and a nifty cast take playwrights Marcia Kash and Douglas E. Hughes’ homage to Agatha Christie and brighten up the murderous antics – yes, antics – as there is gallows humor aplenty to accompany the ghoulish plot.  Stranded on an island at Haddington House in the rustic hunting lodge of famed British author, Charles Prince (John Henderson), five well-heeled guests play a parlor game, adopting the roles of priest, housemaid, conjurer, politician and model.  But are they?  Or are they just recreating a game played by the infamous ‘Phantom Five’, a group of house guests who disappeared on the island during a murder mystery game, never to be seen or heard from again.  What kind of game is this devious host playing? 

James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson Konrad/Charles) Photos by Doug Olmsted

James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson Konrad/Charles) Photos by Doug Olmsted

When a dead body shows up, especially one each has a grudge against, it’s a rollicking good time trying to figure out which one is prevaricating and which one is posing.  Could it be corporate scions Valerie (Laura Peterson) and her sister Henri (Eva Seville Coll) whose Addison Industries has been found to be poisoning Michigan’s water supply?  Hmmm.  Timely reference.  They know they could be ruined, their father’s company reduced to pennies on the dollar if the truth came out.  Or could it be Mackenzie (Danielle Comer), the street smart model who has it in for her abusive lover, the wealthy corporate magnate, Elwood (played by James McDaniel)? Another prime suspect is the wheelchair-bound Willy (Damian John Legacy) who is worried his dark business dealings with the deceased will soon be revealed.  And then there’s our charmingly debonair host, Charles, who does a devious job of pointing the finger at everyone else.  Could he have engineered the whole thing to shift the blame away from himself? 

This nifty, tightly written, cleverly acted whodunit is filled to the rafters with twists and turns.  Highlighted by David Correia’s spooky sound design; sinister lighting by the JK Lighting Designs team of Jeffrey Scott Auerbach and Kimberly Crago; and spine-tingling special effects by Art Snow, the eerie experience is enhanced to a fare-thee-well.  A special nod to longtime alum, Carol Strachan who designed the myriad of props with Susan Driscoll.  And kudos to John Downing for one of the best sets at LTA. 

Go!  It’s Halloween!  It’s a hoot and a howl. 

Through November 12th at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street. For tickets and information call the box office at 703 683-0496 or visit www.thelittletheatre.com

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