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Canterbury’s ‘Murder Mystery Double Feature’ Fall Production Perfectly Executed

Kelly Slonaker

This fall, the theatre program ambitiously put on two productions with one theme: murder. The cast and crew worked tirelessly on All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery and Clue: On Stage! before their live performances to full audiences on November 21 and 22. While two distinct productions, many of the cast overlapped, meaning they had to learn, rehearse and deliver two entirely different characters in two entirely different stories—no small feat!

All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery set the stage first with a meta theatrical experience. Guided by the fourth-wall-breaking Narrator (Neil Yao ’22), the audience was taken on a humorous behind-the-scenes tour, so to speak, of the on-stage production of a murder mystery. In other words, it is a play about being in a play. All I Really Need to Know I Learned by Being in a Bad Murder Mystery offered a satirical glimpse of the process of putting up a play, peppered by humorous rants from the Narrator about bad theatre, bad actors and long-suffering audiences (and a heartfelt discussion about his cats). As co-director Keiko Mathewson put it, “It is said that laughter is the best medicine and that smiling is contagious—and if that’s the truth, you’ll leave [the performance] a happier and healthier person. As you sit back and experience the hilarity and somewhat ridiculousness this show presents, I’m confident you’ll more clearly understand what it is like to be an actor and part of a show.”

After a brief intermission, Clue: On Stage! began with the premise, “It’s a dark and stormy night, and you’ve been invited to a very unusual dinner party. Each of the guests has an alias, a weapon, and a motive. So whodunnit?” The audience joined the iconic ensemble known as Scarlett, Plum, White, Green, Peacock, and Mustard as they raced to find the murderer in Boddy Manor. Based on the cult classic film and the popular board game, Clue is a madcap comedy that kept the audience in laughter and suspense all night long. From the actors’ top-notch accents, costumes, and mannerisms, to the beautifully designed set (complete with blown-up images of the board game) and perfectly timed lighting and sound effects, the performance was not-to-be-missed.             
“Comedy really is hard. It’s so much harder to make someone laugh than it is to make them cry,” wrote co-director Sarah Armstrong. “When it comes to dramatic tenets like grief, betrayal, and loss, we don’t expect a collective reaction. In comedy, you make a joke and you either get a laugh or you don’t. In order for a comedy to be funny to an audience, it has to first be funny to the cast, and boy, have we laughed! Everything seen on stage was crafted specifically to propel the comedy of this play. Not one detail escaped our attention, and believe me, this show had a ton of details. This was the hardest fun we’d ever had.”                
Several Sixth Formers took the stage for one of their last student performances, including Sabrina Capodicci, Anna Imrie, and Zach Reis (who all performed in both productions) and Nick Vial, Ryan Greguski, Abby Omaña, and Chiara Vaccaro (who co-starred in Clue). The crew of both plays did a spectacular job with lighting and sound to immerse the audience in a Bad Murder Mystery and to recreate the eerie and campy feel of Boddy Manor. 

Congrats to the entire cast and crew for a job very well done!