by Christa Van Gemert
The Kings Players open their 2020 season with the hilarious, family-friendly comedy The Marquis Crossing Ladies Society’s First Attempt at Murder. Written by popular playwright Pat Cook, this show is filled with eccentric characters, fast-paced, witty dialogue, and of course, a delightful plot twist.
The ladies’ society in the fictional town of Marquis Crossing has learned that putting on a published play costs money, so they are attempting to write their own. After all, how hard can it be? Emma Thorton, played by Kings Players veteran Kim Spicer, hosts the meeting as the group explores potential murder victims and ways to kill them. Her friend Audrey Kesselring, portrayed by returning actor Susette Ecker, worries that their lack of experience on the subject may put a damper on their writing skills. Endearingly clueless Beryl Overton, played by Raelyn Royer, favors poisoning, and a set with lots of doors, while observant and shrewd Opaline Jones advocates for strangling as the tidiest means of dispatching the intended. Kathy Lahti, who plays Opaline, says about her character: “I like her spunk and her dramatic and dreamy side. She has helped open up a new part of myself.” Pianist Midge Dodge wants to turn the whole play into a musical, but none of the ideas will go anywhere if there’s no one to write them down. Enter next-door neighbor Joan Parnell, who is an efficient typist.
As the ladies discuss the details of the play, two escaped convicts discover Emma’s home to be the perfect hideout from the law. Mad Jack Parker thinks it would be best to get rid of all the ladies, but his partner Terry Hopkins has other ideas. Bumbling policeman Officer Kerns, played by Stephan DesJardins, winds up nearly as confused as the audience.
There’s something to love about every character in this play. Director Louella Moreland, who audience members may remember from her work on Little Women and Over the River and Through the Woods, loves the ensemble cast in which there are no small parts; every character is equally important. Kings Players board president Mike Spicer, who plays Mad Jack Parker, enjoys playing a character that is both homicidal and comical. Cyndie Maxwell, who has directed and acted in numerous plays at the Temple Theatre, says: “I always enjoy playing someone who’s a little quirky, and my character Midge certainly is. Each of the gals in this show has something unique about them, but Midge is all about the music.” Zeke Andre enjoys his character, Terry Hopkins, because of the multi-dimensional aspect of the role. Kim Spicer says of Emma: “I like that she is concerned with proper grammar, yet whimsical enough to want to write a play about murder. Just the perfect mix!” Kim is happy to be sharing the stage with her husband, Mike, as well as the rest of the cast. New to the Temple Theatre stage is Annie McGrath, who plays neighbor Joan. She says, “I love being in the midst of all the action and all the unique characters.” Annie has played villains in her last few theatrical productions, so Joan’s bubbly, sweet character is a fun change of pace. “My favorite thing about the play is how naive all the women are,” says Cyndie Maxwell. “The surprise ending is a lot of fun. People will really enjoy this play.”
This upcoming show runs February 29, March 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. The Temple Theatre is located at 514 E. Visalia Street, Hanford, California. Tickets are available online at www.kingsplayers.org or may be reserved by calling (559) 582-7241. Seating is limited, so book early! The Marquis Crossing Ladies Society’s First Attempt at Murder is produced by special arrangement with Eldridge Publishing Company.
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