BWW Interviews: REHEARSAL FOR MURDER at Apollo Civic Theater is NOT Your Typical Murder Mystery
Most actors attending a read-thru of a play by a well-known playwright do not expect it to turn into a criminal investigation. However, in Rehearsal for Murder, opening on November 8 at the Apollo Civic Theater in Martinsburg, WV, a routine read-thru turns into a determined inquest to find a killer and this murder mystery thriller does not contain most of the usual cliches one would expect.
Alex Dennison (Jerry Tracy), an established Broadway playwright, decides to hold a read-thru of his newest play on the one year anniversary of the death of his fiance and fellow actress, Monica Welles (Laura Richards Bakin). He invites all of the cast and production members who were present on the evening of her death to participate in the reading, and as the scenes progress, it becomes clear Alex has written the series of events and interactions leading up to Monica's death, instead of a fictional play. The ultimate thrill occurs when Alex reveals he believes Monica was actually murdered.... and no one is going anywhere until they find out who the real killer is among them!
"So many mysteries are cheats really: they don't make sense, they don't follow through and there is no way the conclusion matches with what has come before. Rehearsal for Murder is the antithesis of that, and in fact a quintessential murder mystery in my book. It's smart, witty and just entertaining as hell." said director Joey Thorne.
"This is a murder mystery with a twist that I've never seen before. For those who like to figure out 'whodunnit', I think they'll find it a challenge. I am the victim, and I'm killed before the play even begins, so my character's demise is the catalyst for the action in the play. Since my character is dead before the play even begins, all of my scenes are really flashbacks, and Monica is seen through the eyes of different characters" said Laura Richards Bakin, who plays Monica.
Rehearsal for Murder is based off of the 1982 movie of the same name starring Robert Preston and Lynn Redgrave. For the stage version, several characters were expanded and several new characters were added, creating a larger cast for an intimate murder mystery.
"Except for a period during the first act, the actors are on stage pretty much the entire show. There are no long monologues; it is constant conversation and reaction. Everyone has to be focused and aware of what is going on. I have to say that that has been made easier by a top-notch cast and a great director" said Richard Harner, who plays Leo Gibbs.
"I have a wonderful group of people to work with. Every one of them is a consummate professional who brings something new to rehearsal after rehearsal. And even though it's a serious mystery, those moments of levity are always welcomed" said Thorne
"It's a clever mystery, and it's light and fun at times. My fellow cast members are great. I think it's an enjoyable script. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to help make it come alive!" said Bakin.
Though audiences normally can guess the twists, turns and expected cliches of most murder mystery productions, the cast promises this is not the case for Rehearsal for Murder.
"Every show is like a jigsaw puzzle, and some are just more complicated than others. With murder mysteries especially, everything has to be right. It all has to make sense, be truthful (especially) and must reasonably build to a logical conclusion that the audience will believe and accept. Those mechanics need to be established early on, something our show even alludes to" said Thorne.
"This show is a well-written mystery that will keep the audience guessing until the very end. The dialogue is quick and crisp and keeps the show moving at a brisk pace. The script is great and the cast and direction are solid. Audiences will be left guessing until the very end." said Harner.
Rehearsal for Murder also features Bob Wade as Ernie, Joette Omdorff as Sally Bean, Ellie Jones as Loretta, Brian Terrell as Lloyd Andrews, Kristen Shriver as Bella Lamb, April Krabal as Karen Daniels, Tod Williams as David Mathews, Randy Omdorff as Mr. Santoro/Police Officer, Rachel Smith as a Police Officer, Stephen T. Wheeler as Frank Heller and Mike Reed as Lt. McElroy.