Murder at Rutherford House

The Waterworks Playhouse has been temporarily transformed into the elegant Rutherford Mansion, and you are invited for dinner and a mystery. As this is no ordinary play, upon arriving at the fifth annual dinner party commemorating Lord William Rutherford’s death, you will receive a new identity; in this guise, you can play the part of amateur detective or even become a suspect! During the final parade of suspects, you’ll have the opportunity to question them directly, although there’s no promise what you hear will be the truth. Although parts of the drama are clearly staged to move the story along, during much of the action, the players are in among the dinner guests, making chitchat and whispering clues. The dialogue is brisk, full of puns and doubletalk, although the sexual innuendos mean this probably not a production for younger mystery buffs. Music cues (think of an old time radio mystery) provided by Brenda Neller underscore the action and make the play that much more enjoyable. Who knew murder could be fun?

There are plenty of suspects to choose from all portrayed skillfully by the Waterworks players. Millicent, Lady Rutherford, the hostess and a woman with an extremely busy social calendar, is played with energy and style by Laura Bayless. Adorable and spiteful by turns, is she trustworthy? The older Rutherford family members include crazy Aunt Herman (Kathy Neff) and crazy like a fox Lord Oswald Rutherford (Dudley Sauve). The junior Rutherfords include Sarah Rutherford and her twin Camille, the family black sheep. Elizabeth Whiley, who provides Camille with a permanent scowl, plays both parts. The loyal maid, Ruby Pinkbottom, who’s quick to dish dirt on any family member, rounds out the Rutherford household. Jason Dickinson makes Ruby’s character especially fun and playful. As with any wealthy family there are hangers on. These include two handsome young men, who each begin the story as half of a couple but end up alone: the brooding Cameron Worthleston (Joe Brown) and seeming clueless Chadwick Sterling (Daniel Upshaw). Both characters have secrets they’d rather not reveal. Can you figure them out? The cast is completed by a Baroness tramp, played delightfully over the top by Jennifer Samuels, and Wendle Weedle, B.A., M.A., PhD. and P.I., whose responsibility it is to keep both the players and the audience on the task of figuring out the mystery. Chris Brochon has a tough job playing a straight character among this bunch of zanies, but he does it admirably providing focus and some common sense.

The show runs at 7:30 pm Fridays and Saturdays, July 30 & 31 and August 6 & 7, 2004 at the Waterworks Theater. The admission price of $25 per person includes dinner and the show. Catered by David Giles, the dinner includes grilled chicken, mushroom sauce on the side, mashed potatoes, a medley of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, rolls, and cake. Coffee, iced tea, and water are complimentary. Wine is available for purchase. For more information or to make reservations, please leave a message including your name, number of tickets to reserve, and which performance at 434.392.3452.