fbpx

Posts Tagged ‘Murdered to Death’

Wheaton Drama’s British Whodunit Puts the Accent on Funny

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Take a high energy comedic spoof of Agatha Christie-type whodunits, set it in a proper English manor with multiple doors and windows for quick comings-and-goings, a script chuck full of malapropisms and puns, a cast full of talented, but decidedly Midwest actors, and a genuine British director, and you’ve got a recipe for a hilarious production – and production process – for Murdered to Death at Wheaton Drama.

Murdered to Death is directed by Annie Walker-Bright, a British born-and-raised veteran of the Wheaton Drama theater.

Annie Walker-Bright

“I grew up in England the youngest of four siblings with an Irish mother and father with beautiful lilting Irish brogues.  I lived just outside of London for most of my life as a young girl into my early twenties in England.  I am told I still have, some 50 years later of living in the United States, quite a strong accent, although my relatives when I return home would aggressively disagree.  Because of my early years in England, I have an ear for a real English accent whether it be plum-in-the-mouth, cockney, Irish, Scottish or dialect from some nether region of the UK.  As a result, I have heard on stage some ‘English accents’ that have left me quivering in horror because I hear them to be strained and nowhere near authentic and sometimes unintelligible.”

But success, Walker-Bright has learned, is about ensuring the audience is too busy laughing to spend any time worrying about the authenticity of an accent.

“Obviously, most American audiences do not have the same ear as I do, understandably so.  Consequently, when I direct English plays, I tend to focus more on an overall presentation.  My role as the director of this English murder comedy mystery is to infuse and glean as much humor as I can from a funny, well-crafted script.  I am more about the end result, and simply making people laugh – a lot – is my primary directorial vision.  If you present a well-formed stage set in 1930’s style, furniture, furnishings, costumes, makeup and all the other accoutrements of that time period and location, the audience is subconsciously taken to that place without having to listen and master vastly different accents.” 

Cast (L to R), Shannon Bachelder, Mindy Kaplan and Director, Annie Walker-Bright,
focus on the physical comedy of this whodunit set in a classic English manor

Not to say the language of Murdered to Death isn’t important. In fact, it plays a leading role in some of the humor, with double meanings and malapropisms based on the British English. These nuances, Walker-Bright points out, are critical to get right.

“The lead investigator in our mystery is Inspector Pratt, a bumbling, arrogant and clueless detective. Pratt, of course, in the Oxford English Dictionary means, “an incompetent, stupid person,” or, “a person’s buttocks.” Either way, that sums up our Pratt, and he’s just hilarious.

But success for Walker-Bright, is ensuring a little mystery and a lot of laughter are the focus of the evening.

“If the audience comes out of the experience complaining about the lack of English accents, then I have not done my job to suspend reality and put them into an English manor home with an array of colorful characters going about their job to make you laugh.”  

Murdered to Death, by Peter Gordon, will be presented by Wheaton Drama, March 22 – April 14, Thursday-Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Wheaton Drama is located at 111 N Hale St. Wheaton, IL 60187. For tickets, call 630-260-1820 or visit www.wheatondrama.org.

Casting Announced: MURDERED TO DEATH

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Director Annie Walker-Bright and her production team are pleased to announce the cast for MURDERED TO DEATH and would like to thank all those who auditioned for the production.

CAST

Mildred Mindy Kaplan
Dorothy Erin Payton
Bunting Jim Martin
Colonel Charles Craddock Stan Austin
Margaret Craddock Lynda Porter
Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington Jami Johnson
Pierre Marceau Vince Scalone
Joan Maple Charmaine Jones
Constable Thompkins Geoffrey Maher
Inspector Pratt Keith deBolt

CREW

Director Annie Walker-Bright
Assistant Director Dee Hicks
Production Manager Rebecca Poole
Stage Manager Jackie Haiser
Properties Amy Johnson
Costume Design Susan Hajny
Set Design/Construction Don Dumper
Set Decoration Barb Giblin
Lighting Design Jim Van De Velde
Sound Design TBD

MURDERED TO DEATH will play at Wheaton Drama from March 22 through April 14, 2019. Tickets are available NOW by calling our ticket line at 630-260-1820 or online at http://www.wheatondrama.org/order-tickets/.

Audition Notice: Murdered to Death by Peter Gordon

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Wheaton Drama (WDI) proudly announces auditions for the hilarious comedy, Murdered to Death, by Peter Gordon.  Directed by Annie Walker-Bright and produced by Rebecca Poole-Dumper.

Auditions will be held Sunday, January 6 and Monday, January 7, 2019 starting at 7pm, with callbacks as needed on Tuesday, January 8that 7:30 p.m.  Auditions will be held at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street, Wheaton, Illinois.  Auditions are open, with no appointments required.  Cold readings from the script and sides will be provided for each character at auditions.

Murdered to Death will run March 22 through April 14, 2019; Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3pm. Performances will take place at Wheaton Drama’s Playhouse 111, located at 111 N. Hale Street in downtown Wheaton.

Synopsis:

Murdered to Death is the first in the ‘Inspector Pratt’ trilogy of spoofs of the Agatha Christie ‘whodunnit’ genre, with a dash of Inspector Clousseau thrown in for good measure.

The play, set in the 1930s, takes place in an English manor, slightly worse for ware, with worn out decor and furnishings.  It introduces the inept and bungling Inspector Pratt, who battles against the odds and his own incompetence to solve the murder of the house’s owner. It soon becomes clear that the murderer isn’t finished yet; will the miscreant be unmasked before everyone else has met their doom or will the audience die laughing first?

Characters:

The characters in Murdered to Death are all deliberately based upon ‘whodunnit’ stereotypes. All of these characters are caricatures of typical English gentry, but according to director Walker-Bright, “My experience in directing most comedies shows that the humour works best when they are played relatively ‘straight’.”  Character ages below are for guidance only and can be varied, provided that the overall balance is maintained.  Director Walker-Bright gives the following advice: “I would rather see huge characters at first.  Show no fear in presenting over the top performances as one is then able to be pulled back if necessary.”

Mildred– Late fifties. Moderately wealthy owner of Bagshot House.

Dorothy– Mildred’s niece. Late twenties and rather plain but very appealing.

Bunting– The butler. Sixties. Pedantic and rather creepy.

Colonel Charles Craddock– Early sixties. Dresses in tweeds. Confident but over the top bluster.

Margaret Craddock– The long-suffering but acerbic wife of Charles.

Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington – Mid twenties. Attractive and stunningly dressed. Very high society.

Pierre Marceau– A french art dealer in his early thirties. An exaggerated french accent.  Will need to hear cockney from this character as well.  Aha!!!!

Joan Maple – A spinster in her sixties. Amateur sleuth. Think of all the Miss Marples you have ever seen and this is Joan Maple.

Constable Thomkins– Young, bright uniformed village policeman, but well aware of Inspector Pratt’s pratness!!!!

Inspector Pratt – Inept, posing and clumsy. Thinks he so clever but we know better.  A master of malapropism, but this is not intentional.

Audition forms will be available at the theater during auditions or you may download for completion here: Murdered to Death Audition Form

Contact Director Annie Walker-Bright with questions at Bebrightannie@aol.com.

Wheaton Drama is a non-equity theater and offers no pay. Cast members will be required to complete membership with Wheaton Drama in order to participate.

Our 2018/19 season: A bounty for theatergoers

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Wheaton Drama proudly announces its 2018/19 season, bookended with starkly different musicals and featuring two comedies and a provocative drama.

Here’s what’s in store for our audience:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a family-friendly musical based on the Roald Dahl book, tells of a boy named Charlie who, along with four other children, get to tour the inner workings of an extraordinary candy manufacturing plant—guided by the mysterious genius Willy Wonka himself. Will the array of sweets and treats prove too great a temptation for the young visitors? (Sept. 14 to Oct. 7, 2018)

Silent Laughter, Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore’s homage to silent comedy films, teems with slapstick and sight gags and features lovable lovers, greedy villains and an array of stock characters. Audiences familiar with the works of Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd will howl with laughter, and those just discovering the genre will see just how much fun they’ve been missing. (Nov. 16 to Dec. 9, 2018)

Our annual holiday show is still TBA. (Dec. 13 to Dec. 16, 2018)

W;t, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Margaret Edson, focuses on a brilliant professor whose perspectives on life evolve after she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite the poignancy of the storyline, the play brims with gentle humor and offers uplifting insights into the human condition and the importance of recognizing and appreciating those around us. (Jan. 18 to Feb 10, 2019)

Murdered to Death affectionately spoofs murder mysteries in the vein of Agatha Christie. Intrigue abounds as homicide and side-splitting humor intertwine as guests gather at an English manor house. Certainly there would be multiple suspects, but multiple detectives trying to crack the case? Don your deerstalker, grab your magnifying glass and guess along with them as to whodunit. (March 22 to April 14, 2019)

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, is master composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s take on the classic Victorian tale of vengeance, justice and injustice, and pie fillings. Rife with dark humor, unforgettable characters, desperate love, unbridled lust, and a gripping score, the show will have audiences alternately gasping and cheering from start to finish. (May 17 to June 9, 2019) Update: Rights for this show have been secured.

Subscribe to RSS feed