Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of Maggie's Little Theater production of Something's Afoot at St. Margaret's Parish Hall by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Maggie's Little Theater production of Something's Afoot at St. Margaret's Parish Hall was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Something's Afoot
Book, Music & Lyrics by James McDonald, David Vos & Robert Gerlach
Additional Music by Ed Linderman
Direction & Choreography by Whitney Stone
Musical Director: Sarah Glassman
St. Margaret's Parish Hall
66-05 79th Place
Middle Village, New York 11379
Reviewed 3/18/17

Something's Afoot premiered at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, Georgia in 1972. It eventually made its way to Broadway opening at the Lyceum Theatre on May 27, 1976 and closing on July 18, 1976 after 61 performances and 13 previews. It subsequently ran in 1977 in London at the Ambassadors Theatre for 232 performances and was nominated that year for the Olivier Award for Best Musical of the Year. It is a murder mystery musical that spoofs detective stories in general and the works of Agatha Christie (i.e. And Then There Were None a/k/a Ten Little Indians), in particular. 

This production of Something's Afoot is charmingly performed by a dedicated cast of talented actors. The show is quite entertaining and I strongly recommend you see it. While there will be murder, as you might expect, the play also features love (lost and found), bravery, greed, infidelity, gruesome dismemberment, sexual assault, and more than a few cups of tea consumed (after all, the show is set in England in the late Spring of 1935). Between deaths, you will hear some lovely musical numbers, my favorites which included "A Marvelous Weekend," "Something's Afoot," "Carry On," "I Don't Know Why I Trust You (But I Do)," "Suspicious," "Problematical Solution (The Dinghy Song)," "I Owe It All," and "New Day." Miss Tweed, the elderly amateur detective, will do her best to help you solve the mystery and during intermission, you can speculate who might be doing what to whom while you consume reasonably priced baked goods, hot dogs, and refreshments. The set is beautiful and well-constructed, and the six live musicians add to your enjoyment of the show. All is all, if you attend, you will have quite a delightful time!

As for the plot, a number of people start to arrive who have been invited to spend the weekend at Lord Dudley Rancour's mansion, which is surrounded by a lake. When the wealthy lord is found dead, a storm prevents the remaining guests from leaving. A mysterious lad appears and we start to learn more about the backgrounds of the staff and invited guests. The only thing I can tell you (because I have been sworn to secrecy) is that Clive, the butler, played by Jim Gillespie, did not do it. That would have been too much of a cliche. The remaining staff includes Lettie, the saucy maid (Amelia Johnston) and Flint, the caretaker (Jason Kell), who is also a "gripper" (Ladies Beware!).  Guests include Dr. Grayburn, the family doctor (Rich Feldman), Nigel Rancour, the black sheep nephew (Navin Das), Lady Grace Manley-Prowe, The Grande Dame (Beatrice Miranda Holman), Colonel Gillweather, the old army man you can call Shirley (Mark York), Miss Tweed (Shana Aborn), Hope Langdon, The Ingenue (Kaitlyn Alexandria Abdul), and Geoffrey, the college student who is the only uninvited guest (Ryan Hiers).  

Miss Tweed is given the best lines in the show, which included, "Nothing is simple when murder is involved" and "Even the hardest criminal can, on occasion, display charm." She also gets to say "Something's Afoot" while literally holding a shoe, the only remaining piece of clothing belonging to one of the dearly departed. Shana Aborn excelled in the role of Miss Tweed even though her voice may not be as strong as it once was. The standout performers in this production were Kaitlyn Alexandria Abdul, who played Hope, and Ryan Hiers, who played Geoffrey. Ms. Abdul moved well on stage and was quite engaging. Mr. Hiers is very charismatic and talented. I look forward to seeing more of his work. The remaining cast members all did a fine job. If I were to nit-pick, I would say that Mark York was about twenty years too old to play the part of Col. Gillweather and that Navin Das, who sang "I Know What I Am Looking For" left a lot to be desired. But overall, the cast carried out their respective roles well and the production turned out to be a huge success.

Something's Afoot will be at Maggie's Little Theater through March 26, 2017. Tickets cost $20.00 for adults, $15.00 for seniors, and $12.00 for children. You can make your reservations by visiting Don't miss this show or forget to say, "God Bless You, Agatha Christie!"

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