The Ardmore Little Theatre’s production of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a must see prior to the Halloween season, with secret passage ways, murder, mystery and more twist and turns than your brain can possibly handle.
The tone of the production is set by an old, raspy 1940s radio, which describes the cold, winter weather and the environment at the time, with the Germans infiltrating Europe. The radio is just a piece of the captivatingly complicated set, full of dark, ominous colors and secret doors within the book cases.
Before you know it, you are watching one of many murders occur in a dimly lit scene. However, the characters — who we’re told are a group of actors and producers — are oblivious to the danger of the “Stage Door Slasher” at this point.
Elsa Von Grossenknueten (Leah Simmons) owns the estate where they have all come together. As one character points out, Grossenknueten is very— and often hilariously— eccentric, leading some to be rather suspicious of her. Simmons nails Grossenknueten’s character and all of the cast truly does a fantastic job of convincing the audience that they are one person and then another.
Each character seemingly has his or her own quirks. Roger Hopewell (John Pryor) is odd in his own way, referring to his numerologist and pausing to tell one character, “your eyes are very blue”. Marjorie Baverstock (Julie Clemens) is very over-the-top, signified by her constant mispronunciation of divine as ‘divoone’.
Even the accents used in the production are well-done. Riley Dobson, for example, sounds like she has been speaking German all her life as her character, Helsa Wenzel.
Once the second victim is murdered right in front of everyone, the true story begins and as the mystery gets thicker the humor becomes even more funny. “She had so much to live for, but at this moment I can’t remember a single thing,” Bernice Roth (Lisa Cowan) says of the second victim.
A lot manages to happen within a short amount of time in one room. However, the dialogue and chemistry between the actors really carries the story forward.
The production gives off Clue vibes, with Hopewell putting it well when he says “it’s all too confusing.” However, the Ardmore Little Theatre pulls it off really well and, without including any spoilers, throws one last twist at the audience at the end. If you’re looking for a bit of a laugh and a thrilling mystery, you won’t want to miss this show.
The production is set to run at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 - 21 and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Goddard Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and can be purchased by telephone at 580-223-6387 or by visiting ardmorelittletheatre.com.