Format of 1950s-style radio play enhances 'Let's Murder Marsha'
An overheard conversation about a birthday surprise leads to a major overreaction in “Let's Murder Marsha,” the latest farce being presented at the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown.
When mystery-loving Marsha overhears her husband having a secret conversation with another woman, she concludes that her husband is planning to kill her. When a policeman and Marsha's mother arrive, Marsha's fears grow even more outlandish as she assumes they're part of her husband's murderous plot.
Marsha enlists the help of her maid and a neighbor to turn the tables on her husband and the “other woman,” and a witty farce ensues.
Adding another dimension to the comedy, director Chan Harris is staging the show as a 1950s-style radio play.
“We added this extra level to it that makes it even funnier,” he says. “It has a quality of Carol Burnett-ness to it or ‘I Love Lucy.' It has the zaniness of that kind of show.”
Backstage sound effects will enhance the action taking place on stage. For example, in one scene, an unseen bottle drops and rolls across the floor. The characters mime looking at it, but in reality, there is nothing there. The audience knows what it is only by the sound effects coming from backstage.
“I'm really excited about this show,” Harris says. “It's one of the most exciting projects that I've worked on anywhere, because of the people, both onstage and backstage.”
One of those people is actress Ashley Puckett Gonzales, who plays Marsha.
“It's fun to create a character that goes over the top,” Gonzales says. “Marsha is an excited, imaginative kind of woman. She's a little harebrained, but she's very likable.”
Marsha's ally in the play is her neighbor Virgil Baxter, played by Sean Patrick Hopkins.
“He's a very nervous sort,” Hopkins says of Virgil. “He gets wrapped up in the wackiness that goes on in the play. He gets swept up and goes along for the ride.”
Hopkins finds that the radio-show format enhances the play's comedy.
“It really fits this play,” he says. “It reads very much like a mid-century radio drama. It's given us a lot of creative freedom, almost in a ‘Prairie Home Companion' style, with sound effects going on backstage and things happening onstage that embody those sounds. It really heightens the experience and gives a lot of opportunities for extra comedy.”
Other cast members are Larry Tobias as Tobias Gilmore, Sarah Sawyer as Persis Devore, Charis Leos as Bianca, Suzanne Ishee as Lynette Thoren and Jeffrey Correia as Ben Quade.
“The group of people that we have here is one of the funniest groups I've ever worked with,” Hopkins says. “It's one of the funniest shows I've ever been part of.”
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers trade punter Wing to Giants for pick
- 4-year-old transplant recipient Angelo Giorno dies, hospital says
- Pitt forward Maia injured during workouts
- Police seek 2 in Derry Twp. luring attempt
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Dozen injured when dump truck rear-ends Port Authority bus near Rankin Bridge
- Experts warn Kane’s Haiti trip might jeopardize any case from 2014 wiretap
- Steelers laud decision, praise Brady for taking on Goodell
- With most starters resting, Steelers turn in lackluster loss at Heinz
- Young guns lead way into pivotal Pirates-Cardinals series
- Penguins notebook: Czech rookie Simon getting familiar with surroundings