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'Murdered to Death' - My Review

A side-splitting show at the Phoenix Stage Company

and I had a complimentary seat at the matinee the next day. The show is a send up of classic Agatha Christie mysteries and director Ed Bassett has played up the cliches with very funny results. Each of the characters, and all are real "characters," are sharply defined but some have something to hide. Despite the fact that it is a farce, the audience has to pay attention to figure out if, in fact, the butler did it.

We will begin with the butler. Tim Phillips () is absolutely hysterical as "Bunting," the Scottish butler. This marks the fifth time that Mr. Phillips has played a butler, so his experience shows here. Kathy Cook (The Hallelujah Girls) plays the mystery solving "Joan Maple" who seems to bring murder wherever she goes. Roseanne Elliott (the featured soloist in ) plays "Margaret Craddock," the wife of the blustery Colonel Craddock, played very large by Robert Richnavsky (who played "Jesus" in .)

Sara Michelle Euvino makes her Phoenix Stage debut as "Dorothy," the niece of "Mildred," played by another actress making her Phoenix Stage debut, Elaine Taylor. Ms. Taylor appeared as . Here she is wonderful, whether posing at the mantel or dealing with her bumbling butler. Sean Taylor, appears onstage for the second time with his mother, and also makes his Phoenix Stage debut. He really is a standout as the super-bumbling "Inspector Platt" and had us all in stitches.

Joshua Luszczak ( and my ) had to master two accents for this show and he does with aplomb, as does the amazing Heather Graham ( and l.) Her costumes help her to pull off the role of the glamorous moll "Elizabeth Hartley-Trumpington," as does her perfect comic timing. And the always wonderful Chris Evans (who has appeared in five other shows at the Phoenix) does not disappoint here as the very smart but very unlucky "Constable Thompkins."

The set dressed by the director features a lot of black, in keeping with the murderous theme, but also has lots of interesting 1930's period touches. The costumes by the talented costumers Mr. Bassett and Agnes Dann are impressive (especially "Elizabeth's and Mildred's,) as were the numerous sound effects and music operated by Brian Elser.

This is a very fun show, full of laughs and cheeky touches. Don't miss the second act recap of the first act, the freeze frames at many points throughout the play and numerous puns. Just the list of names that the Inspector calls those he is investigating is worth the price of admission. The Maple Hill Dinner and Show group will be laughing their way through an upcoming performance. Go see this enjoyable farce before it closes on Sept. 22.

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