BWW Interviews: MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON'S Is a Killer Comedy at Washington County Playhouse

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The Howard Johnson's chains are usually remembered for their 28 flavors of ice cream, iconic orange logo design schemes and .... romantic murder plots? That's the situation in the comedy Murder at the Howard Johnson's, currently running through September 13 at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater in Hagerstown, MD.

Directed by Shawn R. Martin, Murder at the Howard Johnson's displays a love triangle between husband and wife, Paul and Arlene, and Arlene's lover, the dentist, Dr. Mitchell Lovell, on three separate holiday occasions in the famous hotel chain. Amid the food and frolicking, the characters also attempt to hatch murder plots, with two characters plotting as the murderers and the third character unknowingly becoming the victim. Wife and lover plot to murder her husband, husband and wife plot to murder her lover and, at one point, completely fed up, husband and lover plot to murder the wife!

The comedy features Steve Steele as Paul, Jules Happy Rone as his wife, Arlene and Shawn R. Martin as Arlene's lover, Dr. Mitchell Lovell. Murder at the Howard Johnson's only features the three performers, and an outstanding relationship was necessary to portray the rapidly changing comedic situations.

"Working with these two very funny men, there wasn't a rehearsal that we didn't spend laughing and it's hard to keep a straight face [onstage]!" said Rone.

"It's a three person cast and rehearsals were very enjoyable because I got to reunite onstage with Steve and Jules, who are two of my favorite actors to be on stage with. We had a lot of time for both serious rehearsal time and time to reconnect personally, as we all lead quite busy lives" said Martin.

Although planning murder plots sounds more like an evening of drama than of comedy, Murder at the Howard Johnson's is a quirky, fast-paced comedy with plenty of heart and humorous relationship scenarios.

"Audiences should come see this show to enjoy pure escapist entertainment and to laugh a lot!" said Martin

"For two hours, you can turn off the world and just come laugh with us. I can just about guarantee you'll leave thinking that at least your life isn't as crazy as it is at the Howard Johnson's!" said Rone

Murder at the Howard Johnson's runs August 8, 14, 15, 28 and 29 and September 4, 5, 11 and 12 with one Sunday matinee on September 13. Dinner hour will begin at 6:00 with the show shortly following at approximately 7:30 for evening performances and lunch hour for the matinee performance begins at 1:00 with the show following at approximately 2:30. For more information about the production or to make reservations, please call the box office at (301) 739-7469 or visit

Photo Credit: Washington County Playhouse

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From This Author Johnna Leary