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Mixed performances clash in Something's Afoot

SOMETHING'S AFOOT

MIT Musical Theater Guild.

Directed by Spencer Klein.

Book, Music and Lyrics by James McDonald, Robert Gerlach, and David Vos.

Additional music by Ed Linderman.

Starring Cathy D. Conley 96, Sally Chou '98, Teresa J. Raine 97, Megan L. Hepler 98.

Kresge Little Theater.

April 19 and 20 at 8 pm.

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

Despite some minor weaknesses, the Musical Theater Guild's production of the murder mystery farce Something's Afoot is a delightful parody of Agatha Christie's novel Ten Little Indians. With light-hearted songs and choreography, the show was both humorous and suspenseful as unforeseen plot twists occurred. We hear screams in the night in the mansion of Lord Rancour, suddenly struck by a severe storm that washes the bridge out and traps the unwilling and unknowing guests in the mansion with a murderer. How else would you start a murder mystery?

The female characters in this show have tremendous stage presence and are all-around excellent. Megan L. Hepler '98 was solid in her portrayal of the saucy maid Lettie, complete with bad grammar and swinging hips. Sally Chou '98 was both charming and confident as the young Hope Langdon. Also fantastic was Lady Grace Manley-Prowe, played by Teresa J. Raine '97, who lit up the stage with her elegance, truly living up to her character's name. By far, the star of the show, however, was the all-essential detective herself, played with skill by Cathy D. Conley '96. Conley's portrayal of the "tweedy amateur detective" Miss Tweed was the perfect blend of Sherlock Holmes, Columbo, and Jessica Fletcher.

Despite the strength of the female characters, there were many weaknesses in the show, particularly among the men, who seemed somewhat uncomfortable in their roles. An exception was Matt R. Norwood '99, who turned out a mature and dignified performance as the old army officer Colonel Gillweather. Also good was the wonderfully sinister snarl by Bruce Applegate '94 as Nigel Rancour, the dissolute nephew. The rest of the male characters were lacking any significant facial expressions.

The stage scenery was relatively bare, but it had all of the essentials for a good murder mystery - the shifty-eyed portrait on the wall, the wet bar, and the all-purpose desk that produced plots devices on cue. The special effects were rudimentary but effective. A nice addition to the show was the comical choreography, which was light and gave a nice contrast to the seriousness of the plot.

But perhaps the best part of Something's Afoot was the murder mystery itself, so well woven and unfolded that there were several times I was sure I knew who the murderer was, only to be proven wrong. Who did it? You'll need to see it for yourself.