While the Lights Were Out
While the Lights Were Out by Jack Sharkey
August 6th through August 23rd, 2009
Directed by Rebecca Dennard
Hold on to your umbrella and your funny bone for While The Lights Were Out! A Thunderstorm! The lights go out! An agonized voice! A pistol shot! The lights come up! A blond in black lace stands over the dead man holding a bloody dagger! The detective examines the body and announces "He's been strangled! This hilarious murder mystery is like a roller coaster with a plot that twists furiously, thrills with every lulu of a clue and leaves you breathless with surprise and laughter.
CastLady Monica Wickenham: Lisa Martin
Lord Clive Wickenham: Billy Cobb
Bibi Cavendish: Hrafnhildur "Raven" Vidarsdottir
Pierree Pourri: Wes Milton
Jasmine Perdoo: Gloria Kuykendall
Mimosa: Shania Pierce
Unidentified Blonde: Marcella Willis
Nancy Stafford: Misty Grinstead
Roderick Remely: Jonathon Corrales
Fredonia Custerdine: Dawn Barben
Chloe Custerdine: Sarah Worley
Algernon Wickenham: Landon Ledbetter
Benjamin Braddock: Jason Peregoy
Alma Threedle: Dana Morrison
"Thanks to all that auditioned. We look forward to seeing you again in the future." ~Rebecca Dennard, Director
Review by Fiona Macleod
I attended the opening of the current production of the Way Off Broadway Theatre, then lost the program. "While the Lights Were Out is a 1988 farce in three acts by Jack Sharkey. Jennifer Martin said, "It is one of the most astounding and hilarious murder mysteries ever staged. Every clue is a lulu and the plot twists furiously."
At the end of Act I, the lights go out, a gun shot is heard. The lights return, to reveal Lord Clive Wickenham (a distinguished Neurosurgeon and adept artiste of the palindrome) dead with a blond in a very fetching black lace negligee standing over him holding a bloody dagger! In Act II, the Bermuda constabulary arrive, examine the body, and state, "He's been strangled!. We discover that the blond is amnesiac then yet another murder occurs. In Act III, the housekeeper Mimosa's "boyfriend" arrives. Find the clue to his identity in the program. The Inspector informs the others that only one murder was actually committed.So on it goes.
All I knew prior to the performance, was that there would be a large cast and a storm. I also knew from perusing the play, that While the Lights Were Out is an ambitious production. Director Rebecca Dennard has demonstrated bravery in herself and confidence in the actors and crew in the staging of this murder mystery. Her international experience shows. Once I entered the theatre, I was excited to see the required five entrances for that type of comedy. As the play progressed, with entrances around the audience as well as on stage, I realized that this production had required of the participants, more than the obvious business with rehearsals and lines; but carefully choreographed blocking as well as major set and costume designs. To develop and maintain a set that houses the ever expanding clues may very well have taken more planning than just accommodating the large cast on a small stage. This aspect was admirably coordinated by Mrs Dennard and set designer/performer Bill E Cobb. The set dressing was appropriate to budget constraints if not the Mansion of a colonial Brit. Costume choices also raised some questions for me, but nothing that raised problems for actors or audience.
My next realization was of the many varied talents on that stage; a true performer I had not seen in years, Mr Cobb, caught my ear; then other well- experienced actors were revealed by their ease and flair on stage. Some, were new to the area, some, locals from Prattville, and Montgomery. Seeing neighbors and friends on stage is one of the joys of community theatre. It is wonderful to see so many actors concentrating and enjoying what they are doing. It becomes infectious, especially in a play which has so much information to pass on to the audience. Also essential in this type of play is for the actors and director to keep the magic moving, and this cast did that. Their energy was boundless. Their characters well formed and intriguing, they spoke for the most part in an easily understood, and realistic manner. There was little cliched melodrama in the performers that was not there for a reason, either to elevate their status or turn the pointy finger of suspicion on them. To accomplish this takes diligence from the Director, and trust from the actors.This was part of what I experienced as I listened and watched. Confidence abounded.
The premise of the play is simple enough. Set in Bermuda, "It's a somewhat stormy evening at the mansion of Lord and Lady Wickenham. A number of colorful guests are scheduled to arrive any moment for a pleasant dinner party. " The hired help is too familiar to be helpful, (except for their wonderful Scottish butler). The master of the house has serious objections to the entire dinner, ordeal, and few of the guests are just who they appear to be. The love interests weave a naughty net, complex and funny, involving everyone. Making the evening complete, the somewhat brilliant Inspector Braddock and his sidekick, the talented, Sergeant Threedle have to figure out the murder (or two) This they do by spending the rest of the performance working on finding out the truth. The Inspector reminded me of Peter Sellers as the wonderfully incompetent Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Pink Panther series. A wise choice considering the Inspector of this plays' ability. His trusty female "Watson", definitely brighter than the original, plays the subservient role well. So in the tradition of the good "whodunit", the obvious murderer is everyone, and almost every character has a chance to be suspect, for a time. The accents, the characterizations and acting were very credible and engaging. In fact being a Scot, I was tickled by the butler's pretty accurate accent.
Truly impressive work by an honestly talented and well chosen cast and a committed Director. Rush to get tickets for the few remaining performances at Way Off Broadway, Prattville! You'll be glad you did.