The Archbold Community Theatre production of “Murder Can Be Habit Forming” mixes a murder mystery with a comedy, and comes up with a night of great entertainment.
But while the cast contemplates the identity of the killer, there are a couple of actors who could be indicted for felony scene stealing.
The play is set in a mansion converted to a convent in the woods in upstate New York. A blizzard has everyone snowed in, including the passengers on a stranded bus.
There’s a murderer afoot, who only kills people named Mary. And there are lots of Marys.
Karen Grieser, Hamilton Lake, Ind., plays an elderly nun who is a tad bit forgetful.
Throughout the play, the rest of the cast riffs off her antics and confusion, which makes for some funny moments, and she’s often the center of attention.
For example, when Laura Evans, played by Susan Dominique, Archbold, reveals she is a former nun, Grieser’s Sister Mary Agatha exclaims, “You can quit?”
MichelleJohnson,Wauseon, earns more than a few laughs as the self-involved actress, Erika Kincaid.
Unafraid of physical comedy, at one point she bounds out on stage in a suit of armor wielding a broad sword. But she is constantly on the verge of falling over from the weight of suit, never quite going completely over, but funny nonetheless.
Kim Semer, Bryan, crosses the gender line to play Torch, a rock star legend in his own mind. Torch spends much of the play calling men and women “Dude!”
When Torch launches into one of his songs, it has all the melodic tones of a high-speed industrial grinder. Think dentist’s drill times 10,000.
Normally-rail-thin Bill Phelps, Archbold, is padded out to play Willard Patterson, the driver of the bus. He drops quite a few fat jokes as Willard wanders around the stage. Bad Limp, Attitude
Archbold’s Jeff Patterson is the convent handyman, Herman, a loud-talking backwoods kind of guy with a massive limp and a bad attitude. He could be a touch too loud, but then again, it’s the character.
Pettisville’s Shawn Liechty appears mid-show as the lovesick boyfriend, and does a good job with the role. Randy Stuckey, West Unity, is a newspaper columnist with a secret, and he radiates the anxiety his character requires.
Teresa Van Sickle, Archbold, plays one of the Marys in the cast, but her Mary is more than expected, and she shows the audience hints of her real role.
Phil Ennen, Bryan, plays the dark, brooding police detective with an appropriate amount of darkness and brooding; his character seems lost amidst all of the comic relief.
In past performances, ACT has been challenged by sound problems. Some shows have had places where it’s difficult to hear.
That’s not a problem with “Murder Can Be Habit Forming.” Every actor and actress can be heard; some could be toned down a notch or two.
The fact that the show is performed in the small Giffey Hall auditorium helps. Also, many cast members are stage veterans who know how to project their voices. Whodunit?
Of course, the challenge to any murder mystery is to identify the killer before the big revelation. This writer will admit to being almost completely clueless until right up to the end.
There still are three chances left to try your hand at picking out the killer.
ACT presents “Murder Can Be Habit Forming,” Friday and Saturday, March 30-31, at 8 pm and Sunday, April 1, at 2:30 pm., in the theatre district of Ridgeville Corners–David Pugh