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Review: MURDER ON WEST MOON STREET at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

Review: MURDER ON WEST MOON STREET at Little Theatre Of Mechanicsburg

Enjoy this Victorian Comedy through July 17th

Rob Urbinati's Murder on West Moon Street first appeared on stage in 2007. Based on the short story Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde, the play features a young man who, having being told by a palm reader that he is destined to commit a murder, endeavors to do so before his impending marriage. It is a fast-paced and witty script that explores, in a playful way, questions of free will and fate. This delightful comedy, set in 1899 London, is in the spotlight at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg through July 17th.

It is always amazing to see what the production team is able to do in such a small space with respect to the set, and this show is a wonderful example of that. Using dark, rich colors and well-placed doors and windows, the set gives the audience the impression of the upper-class opulence of the end of the Victorian era. While the set is truly a work of art, there is a great deal of set dressing that gets changed in every scene change, which, while done very smoothly, slows the pace of the show and interrupts the flow of the comedy due to the large number of scene changes. The cast, fortunately, does a wonderful job of keeping the thread of the show going and carrying the energy of the previous scene into the next one.

Of particular note in this production are the costumes. From the dresses and suits to the hats and fans, every piece is well-suited to the time period as well as to the individual character. Fashion is one of the themes in the play, with Lady Windermere representing the newest fashions, Sybil representing plainer, and more conservative dress, and Jane trying to keep up with the trends. The costumes are an essential part of bringing the show to life, and the team at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg does not disappoint.

In the first scene, we are introduced to almost all of the major players in the show, Lady Windermere (Catherine Tyson-Osif), Lord Arthur Savile (A.J. Rhoads), Sybil Merton (Reilly Wilcox), Lady Clem (Jessica Tripp), Jane Percy (Becky Winter), and Mr. Podgers (Andy Isaacs). This opening scene highlights the relationships between the characters as well as setting in motion the entire rest of the plot.

Tyson-Osif is absolutely delightful in her role as Lady Windermere, playing up her sarcastic wit and larger-than-life presence with a twinkle in her eye and an energy that is infectious. Next to Lady Windermere, everyone else seems a bit dull, which is, of course, the point, as it is Lady Windermere who is pulling the strings throughout the play. Lady Windermere's tool for causing mayhem is the palm reader Mr. Podgers, portrayed by Andy Isaacs. Isaacs gives Mr. Podgers just enough mystique to intrigue the other characters as well as the audience. However, I would have liked to see a little more energy and showmanship put into the role, as it is difficult to see him as the "entertainer" that Lady Windermere claims him to be. That being said, his interaction with Lady Clem while reading her palm is wonderfully witty and delivered in a wry manner that suits the scene. While Tripp's Lady Clem is a bit stiff at first, as she relaxes into the role, she carries off Lady Clem's dry humor and acerbic nature quite well. Jane Percy, played by Becky Winter, is a crowd favorite. Winter has great stage presence, and her facial expressions perfectly portray Jane's enthusiastic yet often clueless and naïve personality. Winter's interactions with Tyson-Osif and Wilcox keep the audience laughing throughout the production.

A.J. Rhoads and Reilly Wilcox are absolutely adorable as the engaged couple. They have great chemistry on the stage, and their ability to display a range of emotions makes their interactions with one another and with the other characters feel genuine and captures the audience's attention. The scenes where they argue over Arthur's refusal to tell Sybil about his task and the continual postponing and rescheduling of their wedding are hilarious, as Rhoads and Wilcox demonstrate their comedic timing.

Rounding out the cast are Suzanne M. Thomas as Charlotte and Sam Wilkins as Herr WinckelKopf. Thomas's Charlotte comes across as very straightforward and proper. She is logical and determined. Thomas is perfect in this role, delivering a strong performance as yet another woman pulling Lord Arthur's strings. Wilkins gives what is perhaps one of the most entertaining performances in the show as the anarchist Herr WinckelKopf. His energy, body language, and speech patterns are carefully crafted to create a character that is off-kilter, quirky, and quite the opposite of Arthur.

Director Meredith Hensel and her team at Little Theater of Mechanicsburg deliver a delightful night of intrigue, murder, and comedy with Murder on West Moon Street. Ticket information can be found at https://ltmpa.com/.




From This Author - Andrea Stephenson

Andrea Stephenson’s love of music and theatre was nurtured by her parents. She started performing as a singer and actor in elementary school, and her passion for the performing arts grew throughout... (read more about this author)


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