"Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" seeks a slasher who killed three dancers in the chorus of a musical called "Manhattan Holiday." It also has other villains. That's why playwright John Bishop had to make it the "Musical Comedy Murders of 1940," even though he wrote it in 1987: one set of villains are Nazi saboteurs.
Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten have made careers – one could say an industry – out of writing comedies about an ethnic group that it is safe to laugh at, Southern whites, usually Texans.
Kirkwood Theatre Guild caps their season with an unusual choice for a musical. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels does not set a boy-meets-girl plot to sweet love songs. Jeffrey Lane's book, adapted from the movie of the same name, follows a con man-meets-con man plot. David Yazbek sets lyrics and music to a perfectly hummable musical theatre score.
A good comedy is comprised of many key elements. It must have clear and snappy dialog. There should be jokes and gags, both of a physical nature and layered within the banter.
The year was 1964. The place? St. Nicholas, a Catholic church and school in the Bronx. The Doubt? Did Father Flynn molest one of his students, particularly the first African American student at the school? The answer leaves us in doubt.
Everyone has secrets. Even you! Why fess up? It’s embarrassing. Virtually every character in Curtains has a secret. This musical comedy is a murder mystery, a repository of secrets. Untangle the lies, solve the crime.
Any young woman who takes on the role of Catherine Sloper deserves credit simply for being willing to do it. Catherine is the central character in The Heiress, Ruth and Augustus Goetz's dramatization of Henry James's novella Washington Square. She is regularly described, especially by her father, as plain and painfully shy.
The good news is, the Kirkwood Theatre Guild's current production of Perfect Wedding is evidence that British Farce (a theatrical force all its own, which is why I put it in caps) is alive. And a fairly new British Farce, mind you, not your usual, reliable blockbusters of Noises Off, Lend Me a Tenor, Run for your Wife, Don't Dress for Dinner, etc. The bad news is, the script for this new incarnation of multiple doors, mistaken identities, absurd and improbable situations, physical pratfalls, British accents, scanty clothing, and sexual hanky panky, isn't as solid as it might be.
Kirkwood Theatre Guild recently unveiled its 80th season with an audience-pleasing presentation of Noel Coward's charming comedy, Blithe Spirit. It's the type of show and production that has pleased patrons of the venerable community theater for eight decades.