The Depot Theater Company will open its fall season with "A Party to Murder," a mystery by Marcia Kash and Douglas E. Hughes. Performances begin Friday and continue through Oct. 19.
Six people have come to play a murder mystery game at a rustic island cottage. They have come in secret so no one at home knows exactly where they are.
The amusing divertisment turns sinister when guests begin to die. Suddenly the remaining players realize they are, in fact, playing for their lives.
Laced with secret passageways, incriminating letters, hidden compartments, bodies in the window seat and an unsolved mystery that dates back 25 years, the play twists through its creepy plot to an unexpected conclusion.
The London Free Press called the play "cheeky and skillfully crafted mayhem."
The Oxford Press called it "enough to turn Dame Agatha green with envy."
Gayla Kirmer, director of the local production, calls it "a great evening of mystery and fun," in an interview just before a dress rehearsal Monday evening.
Kirmer, who has directed three shows previously at the depot, says "Each show has its challenges."
Although the casting process went smoothly – "We had great people audition," – Kirmer has spent more time and effort during rehearsals making sure every seat in the house has a great view of the action.
"It's been a blast," she said. "I picked this show because I've wanted to do a mystery with a Halloween connection. After some online research, I found this script that has a lot of surprises – you think you have it all figured out then there's a surprise and you have to rethink your theory."
Bringing the cast of six endangered characters to life are six veteran company members.
Gary Foiles, who did two shows with the company several years ago before moving away, has returned to the depot stage playing Charles, an urbane and well-bred English mystery novelist who is hosting the party.
Cary Droste, veteran of numerous shows in both the depot and the Homestead Theater, plays Willy, a former football player with a good sense of humor.
Bradley Leis, also a veteran of numerous shows, plays Elwood, a confident corporate CEO.
Elizabeth Stephens, veteran on one previous show on the depot stage, plays McKenzie, a witty and tough fashion model.
Danielle Clark, who has been doing shows at the depot since she attended Dodge City High School, plays Henri, a shy and easily intimidated young woman.
Kara Yoder, also a veteran of one previous depot production, plays Valerie, an extroverted and witty woman who is Elwood's girlfriend.
A technical crew of designers and running crew is working to bring the production to the stage.
Page 2 of 2 - Jennifer Vierthaler and Kyle Tallent have designed lights and sound.
Miki Webb will be running the light board and Niki Dunlap is stage manager.
Kirmer designed and painted the set with construction help from Karl Stinemetze, Earl Unruh, Richard Ingland and Dennis Droste.
Jana Ross has collected and built costumes.
The production is a dinner theater and another crew will be hard at work in the kitchen, providing a great autumn meal to begin the evening.
Zach Swenson and Nicole Webb will lead the kitchen crew as they prepare apple and walnut salad with poppy seed dressing, spinach and cherry-stuffed pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce, herbed stuffing, Pacific blend vegetables, rye rolls and pumpkin cheesecake.
Sounds like fun
The show opens Friday and runs through Oct. 19, with performances scheduled for Thursday through Sunday each week. The Oct. 13 Sunday performance is a matinee, beginning with doors opening at noon and meal service beginning at 12:45 p.m.
All other performances begin with doors open at 5:30 p.m. and meal service beginning at 6:15 p.m.
Single tickets for this production, including dinner and the show, are $40.
At all performances, the Harvey Hotel lobby bar, Imbibe!, is open before performances featuring beer, wine and a specialty cocktail.
For this production, the cocktail, designed by Mark Vierthaler, is the Lady Agatha, a nod to the script's inspirational character: Agatha Christie.
In the theater, wine is available by the bottle before the show.
"We really encourage everyone to consider joining us for this production. Tickets are going fast, but you can still make your reservation by calling the box office at 620-225-1001," Kirmer said.
"There's a little grownup language in the script and the are gun shots, so be warned, but the show is fast-paced with lots of unexpected turns and a sprinkling of dead bodies and blood."
Kirmer also suggested that patrons could combine the show with a visit to the Depot Theater Company's "Haunted Hotel" tour in the same building for a complete Halloween scare.
Information about the Haunted Hotel is available from the company's box office.
IF YOU GO
What: "A Party to Murder"
Where: Depot Theater Company
When: Opens Oct. 4 for a three-week run