Review: 'Musical Comedy Murders'

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, February 21st, 2019 at 11:46 AM
Review: 'Musical Comedy Murders' by Nathan Brennan
Photo: Nathan Brennan

This February, Diebold is asking: “Who is the Stage Door Slasher?” 

This question was answered in hilarious fashion in the Edinboro University theatre program’s latest show, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.” 

The show’s description, per their Facebook page, reads: “The creative team behind a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were mysteriously murdered) assemble for a backer’s audition of their new show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy eccentric. As the composer, lyricist, actors and director prepare their performance, and a blizzard cuts off any possible retreat, bodies start to drop, knives spring out of nowhere and accusing fingers point in all directions in this comedic thriller by John Bishop.” 

A “comedic thriller” is an accurate description, and the cast certainly delivered. 

Under the stellar direction of Torie Witherow, the ensemble cast members were natural storytellers. With energy and vigor, the actors guided the audience through the twists, turns and all the laughs along the way. Not only that, but the actors seemed comfortable and confident in their respective roles, which left room for everyone to shine in their own unique way.  

However, there were some standout performers in the group. 

Mikhail Ferree, who played the “Irish Tenor” Patrick O’Reilly, walked the stage with poise and had fantastic accents to back it up. 

Mason Kuhr played comedian Eddie McCuen. With a friendly demeanor and expert comedic timing, he especially stood out in the ensemble cast. 

Livia Homerski, meanwhile, played maid Helsa Wenzel. She put on an impressive performance with her top-notch facial expressions and spot-on German accent.  

During the performance, there were unfortunate instances where props were missing or perhaps didn’t work as they were intended; however, the show was still in previews at the time this article was being written, so these issues were likely remedied between then and their opening night. 

On the plus side, something this cast excelled at, even in previews, was their facial expressions. An often-overlooked facet of theatre is acting without dialogue. While the actors delivering their lines play an important role, it adds a great deal when all characters onstage are aware and engaged. This cast, on that point, did not disappoint; in fact, some of the funniest parts were genuinely great and believable reactions to the other characters, which can sometimes be difficult to accomplish. Characters visibly reacted to what others were saying, either with a nod of agreement or a random action that just made the scene stand out.

For instance, O’Reilly, played by Ferree, indulged himself in an appetizer off of a serving tray (which happened to be a Reese’s peanut butter cup). Upon eating it, his delight was evident as he displayed a big grin. At another point, while just a small group were talking, the rest of the actors onstage were carrying on their own “conversations” in the background, some even horsing around and telling jokes with each other. This enhanced the performance and gave it great depth.

Overall, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” is a delight, from beginning to end. With an all-around, consistently-talented cast, come ready to laugh and have a great time. 

If you missed out on opening weekend, you still have a chance to catch the show from Feb. 21-23 at 7:30 p.m., and on Feb. 24 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $3 for EU students, $5 for EU staff and faculty, non-EU students and senior citizens, and $10 for general admission.  

Nathan Brennan | ae.spectator@gmail.com

Disclosure: Mason Kuhr is a page and graphic designer on The Spectator’s staff. Livia Homerski is the music editor for The Spectator.

Tags: musical

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