Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review: Mystery fans run to the Bickford for fun thriller 'Ravenscroft'

Attention lovers of Agatha Christie mysteries: The Bickford theater in Morristown is presenting a fascinating thriller, with large doses of humor, "Ravenscroft," starting this weekend and continuing until February 12. This is the best 'who-dun-it' we've seen in several seasons. This fun puzzle is written by Don Nigro and features his complex Inspector John Ruffing, played to perfection by Clark Carmichael. You may have seen Clark in the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's Coriolanus, on Broadway in Jumpers, or on tv in hit series House of Cards and Boardwalk Empire. Inspector Ruffing is called to a remote English country manor house to investigate the death of the young handyman, Patrick. His body has been discovered at the foot of the main staircase. A horrible, unfortunate accident or murder?

What starts as a simple case grows into a complex puzzle. In the house are; the recently widowed Mrs. Ravenscroft (Molly Garner), her husband also died by falling down the staircase!; her somewhat ditsy daughter, Gillian (Erin Farrah); Gillian's Viennese governness, Marcy Kleiner (Katrina Klein); Mrs.French (Gloria Lamoureux) the cook; and the maid Dolly (Jessica Sroczynski). 

Early in the tale, one of the women-with a strong motive, confesses that she pushed the man down the stairs...accidentally. When the masterful inspector rejects her version and starts to charge her with murder... everything starts to unravel as all the women become murder suspects.

After interrogating the women, it is obvious to Ruffing... that truth is apparently absent from this remote country house. Are they all lying? Why? Well let's not go any further into the highly involved plot. Suffice it to say, this is first rate entertainment that more than nicely justifies an evening away from the tv set. Translation: You will not be disappointed. This is a treat worth savoring.

The cast is truly perfect; Molly Garner is outstanding as Mrs Ravenscroft. She IS the lady of the house, beautiful, seductive, with a commanding stage presence; Katrina Klein is properly mysterious. She is particularly marvelous in her interrogation by (and of) the Inspector. One of our local favorites is award winning Gloria Lamoureux. Gloria plays the dotty Mrs. French in fine style. She excels at British roles. Her solo performance as Shirley Valentine at Chester's Black River Playhouse earned her nightly standing ovations and a Perry 'Best Actress' award; Erin Farrah, a sophomore at Drew, nails the part of the flaky daughter, known to see ghosts (or are they); Also, at Drew is Jessica Sroczynski as the maid Dolly. She has her big plot-turning moment late in the second act. Both ladies should make the drama department at Drew quite proud.

Deserving of his own ovation is the director, Eric Hafen (the artistic director for the Bickford). His creative team includes: Jim Bazewicz scenic designer (very clever set); Roman Klima lighting designer; Kaitlyn Frega costume designer (perfect period outfits, particularly Mrs. Ravenscroft's); Andrew Elliot sound designer; Danielle Pietrowski prop designer; Daniel LaPenta production stage manager; Michal Kortsarts and Annie Belkin assistant stage managers; and Lewis Perlmutter technical director. 

Reviewed by Rick Busciglio   Jan. 26, 2017

Tickets for Ravenscroft are $45 for the General Public; $40 for Seniors; $38 for Museum Members; and $20 for Students (18 & under or with valid college ID). Group rates are available.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (973) 971-3706, or in person at the Bickford Theatre Box Office. The Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre is located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, and offers free parking and full accessibility. Box office hours for phone sales are Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. Walk-up hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.


Thursday, January 26 and February 2, 7:30 pm; February 9, 2 pm (audio described performance)
Friday, January 27, February 3 & 10, 8 pm
Saturday, January 28, February 4 & 11, 8 pm
Sunday, January 29, February 5 & 12, 2 pm

Top photo: Katrina Klein, Jessica Sroczynski, Gloria Lamoureux, Clark Carmichael, Erin Farrah, on the floor Molly Garner (Bickford-Morris Museuem photo)

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