Reviewed by Karla Froehlich
Fenton Village Players opened their production of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 last night to a small but mighty audience. Director Carla Feamster assembled a bright cast for this mysterious romp through an equally mysterious old house. As for the set, it was handsomely done for a demanding set on a small stage. Entrances and exits flowed well for this large cast of ten who all shared the stage in several scenes and did not overwhelm the space. Well done, construction crew and designers!
I can’t say too much as that might ruin it for you, and this is a mystery so…come with your thinking caps on because the twists this plot takes will have you resembling a pretzel! The exposition in the first scene sets the pace with the hostess, Elsa Von GrossenKnueten, played with exuberance by Mary Powers, providing much of the information needed by the audience to carry the story. Elsa exposes the plot to the Police Sergeant, played with self-confidence by Nick Carter, who successfully hides his identity from the others until necessity dictates. There are some entertaining moments between the two while trying to communicate through miming actions. Hilarious!
Characters came and went with ease on the vast set that holds its own mysteries. Those are for you to find out about when you witness for yourselves! Energy changes with each new appearance of characters and this piece continues to build right to the end.
Several characters go through changes and their arcs are palpable. Once again, I can’t tell you too much or you’ll want to kill me! I will share that there are accents from all over the world and executed with a lot of fun. Is there anyone in this story who is who he or she say they are?? Come see.
There is a fledgling love interested couple – the Comedian, played with joy and poise by Stevie Visser and the Chorus Girl, played lovingly by Grace Lee. Our Chorus Girl has more than Marabou feathers up her sleeve…but that’s for you to find out about as well.
I gravitate towards drunks, who usually fall down a couple times. My eye was drawn but never stolen by the Lyricist, portrayed with dexterity by Tammy Robison. Our girl was on the floor as often as she was pouring another drink, Great excitement and executed with care (no one likes to get hurt, for real!) for the character and for the audience. Always enjoyable!
One note: we need to see all of your eyes more. This may be a function of playing right on top of your audience, and we need your eyes and even eyebrows to help convey! I know they are doing incredible work!
Costumes helped clearly establish character and complimented each other, so even though they came from various closets, they looked like they came from one. All of the characters and dialects were performed with a fullness befitting a seasoned, accomplished director. Kudos to Carla Feamster on her maiden voyage!
The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 runs this weekend and next at Fenton Village Playhouse: 14197 Torrey Rd., Fenton, MI. For more info and tickets contact the box office at 810-750-7700 or online at www.fentontheatre.org