The Archbold Community Theatre production of “The Butler Did It” is going to be familiar, because you’ve seen it before.
If you saw the ACT production of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” back in 2015, you’re familiar with the basics: a group of people trapped on an isolated island. There’s a murder, and those remaining must solve the crime.
“The Butler Did It” has the same formula, except it’s a comedy.
The best parts of this show are the actors who play the characters. There’s not a clinker among the cast.
Everybody walks on stage in character and stays in character. If anybody flubbed a line or got lost in their monologue, it wasn’t noticeable.
And all were able to project their voices so they could be heard.
An ACT veteran once said getting sound right is one of the most difficult things in theatre, and that has proven to be true. The small space of the Giffey Hall theatre certainly helps.
Bill Phelps, an ACT veteran, and Karleen Holland are Rick and Laura, based on the Nick and Nora Charles movie characters of the 1930s. Both are excellent.
While Rick spends much of his time “dead,” Holland plays Laura with poise and confidence.
David Stuckey, Archbold, is Father White, a take-off of the Father Brown character, which he does well.
Ryan Mooney, an ACT veteran from Continental, has the role of Chandler Marlow, based on Raymond Chandler’s character Phillip Marlow. Mooney gets a chance to “chew the scenery,” or overplay his role, and doesn’t let the opportunity pass him by.
Jan Delaney, Archbold, is Asian detective writer Lou Lou Fan.
She does the Asian accent well. It’s probably the hardest accent of the bunch to do.
Caleb Wyse, Archbold, is Peter Flimsey, whose character channels Sherlock Holmes. His English accent is outstanding. Wyse is a real stage talent.
Crissi Stuckey, Archbold, is Haversham, the housekeeper with an ugly past. Her character is supposed to be mildly annoying; Stuckey’s got it down pat.
Chelsea Reecer, Pettisville, is Rita, the social secretary, and Becky Rupp, Wauseon, is Miss Maple, the host of the event. Both carry their roles well.
Sierra Rupp, Wauseon, has the role of Charity Haze. She gets a chance to play a loud, bold woman, and takes full advantage of the opportunity. It’s a character that seems to be written for her.
Norm Fether, Archbold, is simply “the radio voice.” He has a good voice for the role.
The play is promoted as a kind of zany, laugh-a-minute, funny show. Not exactly.
It’s not the actors’ faults. They are the best part of the evening. Yeah, there’s a few zingers that fly to and fro, and some funny lines here and there.
If you think you’re going to solve the murder by watching for every little clue on stage, forget it. There are more curve balls thrown at the audience than during the entire Major League Baseball season.
Go to see “The Butler Did It” to watch amateur actors do absolutely great work. Go to hear Caleb Wyse do Sherlock Holmes. Go to see Sierra Rupp make a stage entrance worth seeing. Go to see Ryan Mooney’s hard-boiled detective be hard-boiled.
You have three more chances to see “The Butler Did It”: Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11-12, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2:30 pm, all at Giffey Hall in the Ridgeville Corners Theatre District.–David Pugh