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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Musical comedy murders of 1940 at Villagers Theatre in Somerset


Just when you thought you’d seen every story beginning with a dark and stormy night, along comes THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940, a play by John Bishop, is now running through September 27 at Villagers Theatre in Somerset.

From the opening moments of the show you will quickly learn that nothing and no one are what they seem to be. Secret passageways and an increasing number of dead bodies combine to create a blizzard of mayhem in this sidesplitting comedy. Poking fun at the more ridiculous aspects of “show biz” and the corny thrillers of Hollywood’s heyday, the play is a non-stop barrage of laughter as those assembled attempt to untangle the mystery of the Stage Door Slasher.

The creative team responsible for a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were murdered by the still-at-large “Stage Door Slasher”) have assembled for a backer’s audition for their newest show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy “angel.”  The house is replete with sliding panels, hidden doorways and secret passages, all of which figure diabolically in the comic mayhem that follows when the infamous Slasher comes out of the woodwork and strikes again. As the creative team prepares for their performance a blizzard cuts off any possible retreat, the body count begins to climb and accusing fingers point in all directions. Will the bumbling police inspector unravel the mystery and unmask the Slasher in time? The author serves up a dollop of bitingly sarcastic and refreshingly irreverent wit treating the audience to a hilarious evening of theater.

THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940 features an ensemble cast with Ariana Fort of Three Bridges (Blanche DuBois in last season’s A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE) as Nikki Crandall; Bobby Marusiefski of Rahway, making his Villagers Theatre debut as Eddie McKuen; Cindy Chait of West Windsor (FALSETTOS) as Helsa Wenzel; Robyn Mandalakis of Somerset as Elsa Von Grossenkneuten; Richard Butler of Piscataway (Judge Turpin in SWEENEY TODD) as Ken De La Maize; Arthur Pugh of Englewood as Michael Kelly; Mike Levine of Edison as Roger Hopewell; Laurie Hardy of Hamilton as Bernice Roth; Gordon Wiener of Martinsville as Patrick O’Reilly; and Allison DiBiase of Somerset as Marjorie Baverstock.

The production is directed by Judi Parrish of West Trenton, and produced by Emily Russoniello and Howard Gross, both of Somerset. The Stage Manager is Beverly Kuo Hamilton of Princeton; with fight choreography by Katie Downey of Bound Brook; set design by Guy Suabedissen of Piscataway; lighting design by Suzanne Wengryn of Hillsborough; and costume design by Sue Darling Hawley of Freehold.

THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940 continues its run Friday September 18-Sunday, September 27.  Performances are 8:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays with 2:00pm matinees on Sundays.    Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and students and are available online at; by emailing:; or by calling the Box Office at 732-873-2710

Villagers Theatre is on Facebook:  The theater is wheelchair accessible. Villagers Theatre is located at 475 DeMott Lane in the municipal complex in Somerset.

Cast photo courtesy of Villagers Theatre

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