Escondido, CA---If you like herring, red ones that is, you will love the James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach (music and lyrics with additional lyrics by Ed Linderman) Musical Mystery Comedy (or Musical Mystery Mayhem) “Something’s Afoot” now showing at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido through Sept. 22nd.
Randall Hickman and Douglas Davis are producing the show, a musical takeoff on Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” or “Ten Little Indians” in the Welk Theatre. It comes directly to you by way of Premiere Productions. And if that sounds like a contradiction, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet. It’s kinda like “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?”
In this case this little spoof is about who is killing all the invited guests at Lord Dudley Rancour’s island estate? The play is set in 1935 when it was posh to have butlers and caretakers and maids even at vacation villas. Clive (Douglas Davis) is the butler and Flint (Randall Hickman) is the caretaker, they live on the property. Lottie (Lisa Laughbaum) is the maid, and NO! The butler did not do it! That’s the only bit of information I will part with.
I used to consider myself a super sleuth. I love solving murder mysteries and I must admit, I am 9 out of 10 times right. Not so much in this little caper since almost everyone drops dead of one silly mishap or another. All my theories end up as cold as the bodies Flint drags off to the library yet it doesn’t stop Hope Langdon (Karina Gillette) and her new squeeze Geoffrey (Charles Evans) to escape there... for? (“I Don’t Know Why I trust You”)
Some of the characters have a bit of background that makes them more interesting than others but all are out of Christie’s playbook. For example Miss Tweed (Elaine Weidauer) at first glance appears to be an artist. On second look she almost takes on the role of a Miss Marple. Of the entire cast, she stands out. Nagel Rancour (Gene Hicks) is the outcast nephew who slinks around looking like he’s up to something and always on someone’s trail. Creepy sort of a guy. Lady Grace Manley-Prowe (Sandra Kopitzke) commands much attention as the Grand Dame and has great costumes. We get to learn her story soon enough.
All four women have fine voices with wide ranges. My all time favorite is when Weidauer along with Gillette and Evans does a song and dance to “I Owe It All”- a tribute to Christie, Doyle and all the other detective writers of the era. Coming in second best is when the company sings” Suspicious”, as well they should be.
“Something’s Afoot” premiered on Broadway in May 1976 and closed in July after only 61 performances. In 1977 it ran in London for 232 performances and was nominated for the Olivier Award as Best Musical of the year.
The good news is that there are five musicians on stage providing the musical accompaniment needed for a musical. The bad news is that on the day I saw the show they were too loud almost drowning out whatever words were sung. Davis’ sound design needs to be toned down. Randall Hickman, who is involved in every aspect of the production from choreographer to costumes to ‘set decorum’ to wigs and direction is one busy guy. He makes good on the set and costumes and choreography but the wigs have got to be revamped especially Clive the Butler’s.
“Something’s Afoot” is an old warhorse that needs to be put back on the shelf. There are too many other good little Christie mysteries out there that don’t kill off the first victim in the first five minutes of the show. Unfortunately it’s simply overkill from there on out. Pardon the pun.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Sept. 22nd
Organization: Premiere Productions
Production Type: Musical Comedy Mystery
Where: Welk Resort Theatre, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido, CA
Ticket Prices: All seats $19.50/ no meal included