BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Murder
by Eunice Marquet
Since 1986 the Pegasus Theatre Company out of Dallas, Texas has been producing black and white plays. They have, over the years, developed something of a cult following in the lone star state. After loosing their theatre space this past fall they decided to take their show on the road. Figuring if they could make it here, they could make it anywheref, their first stop is the Big Apple figuring if they could make it here, well, they could make it anywhere.
Set in a Macy's type department store It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Murder follows bumbling gumshoe Harry Hunsecker as he and his sidekick Nigel Grouse investigate the murders of several department store Santas. Steeped in 1940's colloquialisms the detectives set about the task of discovering who did it. Without giving away the plot I will say it involves Christmas tree ornaments, a lingerie drawer and some crazy old man who lives in the basement.
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Murder! is one episode in a series of Harry Hunsecker chronicles. As such, there are references in the script that may be relevant if seen in context, but since this episode is being produced as an entity unto itself those diversions tend to muddy the story line and slow down the timing.
Drawing on a cast of stock characters from a number of classic films playwright Kurt Kleinmann (who also plays Harry) fully embraces the style and sappy playfulness of the genre. His script is helped along by the tight ensemble who give some deft performances; Ellen Reilly shows great comedic versatility in her roles, Steve Borowka is a howl as the put-upon gift wrap clerk and Shay Gines gives a spot on performance as the quintessential girl Friday with just a hint of Mae West.
The real gimmick of this production is that the play is performed in what the producers term "living black and white." The actors, costumes, props and set all appear as though in a three dimensional black and white film. All the designers all deserve a big round of applause. From the opening "credits" to the final tableau every detail has been tended to thoroughly. The full effect of the illusion is achieved when a young lady in a brilliant red dress joins the black and white cast on stage for the final curtain call. Audience members sat with their mouths hanging open and blinking their eyes in amazement.
If you want to look at the black and white effect up close, you can meet the actors in the lobby following the performance. Shake their hands and take a photo, but don't ask about the make-up. Apparently they've been sworn to secrecy under penalty of law.
If you are a fan of classic films or you are just looking for some fun holiday entertainment that is appropriate for the whole family, this light hearted and innovative production may be a welcome alternative to the Holiday Spectacular.
Books Make Great Gifts
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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