PLYMOUTH, Wis. (WFRV) – Where were you when the lights went out?
Some people Friday night were at “If It’s Monday, This Must Be Murder!” The murder-mystery may hold the record for the most blackouts for a play.
Some blackouts are caused by lighting in the story. But most are caused by the murderer.
With that title and twentysomething blackouts, of course the play is screwy – a relief from this year’s headlines and other headaches.
Plymouth Arts Center Theatre Company is one of the few theater entities making a stab at live performances in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The troupe is doing so carefully. Its players wear masks when performing.
The play is by Pat Cook, who has made a cottage industry of lite frolics such as this. Acting requirement: Over the top, please.
The title is a pun. Monday is not a day of the week. It is the last name for a private detective.
Harry Monday is called to get to the mystery of three murders in quick order at an exclusive country club – by gun, by poison and by golf flagstick in the back.
Pat Cook toys with the wordplay of Raymond Chandler ’30s/’40s detective novels along with visual gags such as raincoat-clad characters slinking around to the music of “The Pink Panther.”
Director Kerrylynn Kraemer and her cast are game for playfulness.
Bob Deyo is solid in an oddball way as the slapdash detective Harry Monday. Talk about “veteran actor,” Bob Deyo in his bio in the printed program notes this is his 109th production since 1996.
Harry Monday sorts through red herrings and blackouts in a dizzying array. Around him are the IMPORTANT club president (Tom Clegg, he of a strong voice), perplexed club manager (Dawn Molly Dewane), la-dee-da prima donna (Sue Kaiser), astrological cuckoo (Bonnie Jaeger), slick adman (Tom Armstrong), crossword puzzle nut (Tegan Gonzalez), grumpy cop (Randall Stache) and put-upon/do-all employee (Debra Stache).
Taking mask wearing seriously has its fun side and drawbacks. Each speaking player is equipped with a wireless microphone; while amplified, voices are muffled by the masks. Of necessity, players continually tug their masks back in place as they speak. The fun side is the masks are individualized with something about the character. For instance, Bob Deyo’s includes a mustache, which, underneath, he has in real life.
Following instructions, the company spaces audience members at seats and tables for one to three (on Friday) at social distanced spots around the performance room.
People are murdered in the play, but otherwise life goes on, thumbing the nose at a pandemic, for an evening’s entertainment in Plymouth, Wisconsin.
Creative: Playwright – Pat Cook; director – Kerrylynn Kraemer; tech director – Bill Johnston; sound – Bill Johnston, Toddianna Kraemer-Curtiss; lights – Bonnie Jaeger, Bill Johnston, Kerrylynn Kraemer, Michellelena Kraemer; set designers – Nora Jaeger, Michellelena Kraemer, Toddianna Kraemer; props – Tegan Gonzalez, Michellelena Kraemer, Nora Jaeger, Toddianna Kraemer-Curtiss; master seamstress – Dawn Molly Dewane
Cast (In order of appearance)
Linus Harcourt – Nicholas LaPoint
Mrs. Pomeroy – Toddianna Kraemer-Curtiss
Greenskeeper – Kristopher Kraemer
Harry Monday – Bob Deyo
Billie Jean Hodecker – Dawn Molly Dewane
Sergeant Brogan – Randall Stache
Stella Fontaine – Sue Kaiser
Cecil Deborus – Tom Clegg
Glamis Ludlow – Bonnie Jaeger
David Soames – Tom Armstrong
Freida Mae Bristow – Tegan Gonzalez
Georgette – Debra Stache
Anita Fay Martoon – Tegan Gonzalez
Messenger – Nicholas LaPoint
Running time: One hour, 50 minutes
Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27
Etc.: Tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets are sold in advance only because seating will be very limited due to social distancing. Groups ordering tickets will be seated together. Guests are required to wear a mask.
VENUE: Plymouth Arts Center is located at 520 E. Mill St. in downtown Plymouth. The building began life as H&W Motor Sales, probably in the 1920s, then became the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and then became the multi-use arts center. The theater space is approximately 70 by 50 feet, with the floor flat and carpeted. Lighting and sound elements are hung on sturdy structures in an open ceiling above the first level, through which can be seen a wood ceiling of a second level. Walls are painted cream. Remnants of the auto dealership include ornate arches for an apparent showroom and what appears to be a small balcony. Entering the building, patrons see a beverage area to the right, a gift store to the left with an art gallery in a large space adjacent. Concerts, plays and special events are presented in the theater space. In all, it’s a clever conversion of a building.