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Theater Review: A Brilliant Whodunit At The Little Theatre

Published: May 18, 2017

You cannot make this stuff up! When mystery writer Crane Hammond takes off for some inspirational peace and quiet in the New England countryside, she encounters more intrigue than she could possibly imagine in Fred Carmichael’s Exit the Body, on stage now at The Little Theatre in Newtown.

With her trusty and sarcastic assistant Kate Bixley (Kimberly Marcus) in tow, famous and prolific crime novelist Crane Hammond (Deborah Burke) rents a lovely country place complete with a charming house servant Jenny (Brooke Casalia) and history of suspiciously missing diamonds.

These very diamonds are a magnet for a cast of characters caught up in a game of hide and seek, and they are found hiding and seeking all over the place, all the time. The sweet, and possibly innocent, Jenny is in some kind of cahoots with Randolph (Jeffrey Bukowski), a slick, sweet talking opportunist.

Neighbor, friend, and serial bride Lillian Seymour (Kathleen Krippin) stops in with her newest husband Lyle Rogers (Timothy Huber). Both get involved in the shenanigans.

Local real estate agent Helen O’Toole (Barbara Disraeli) is a jittery nosey body who drops in and out just checking on her celebrity client.

Keeping his eyes and ears open for trouble, Ron Malyska plays Vern Cookley, the ubiquitous cabbie, repair man, and sheriff in town. In hot pursuit of a guy with a bandaged head and amnesia, possibly named Philip Smith (Shawn Brown), Vern pops in and out at all hours.

Those missing diamonds are elusive, yet the source of much mayhem. When the action reaches a fever pitch, Richard Hammond (Mark Rubino) — an advice columnist and Crane’s husband — makes a surprise entrance and struggles to catch up yet gets completely caught up in the frenzy.

Who are all these people really and why are they swarming in and out of Crane’s retreat? The answers are surprising.

Town Players of Newtown has assembled a fun and energized cast for this production. All performances are very good. A true ensemble piece, they all work well together.

Lead Deborah Burke keeps up an enthusiastic performance as she roams the house all night, charged up by the commotion. She is delightful. Barbara Disraeli is really fun as the befuddled Helen O’Toole.

Jeffrey Bukowski is a hoot as a gangster-type intruder with a manipulative streak. The debonair newlywed, Lyle Rogers, as played by Timothy Huber, is a terrific old blue blood type with an ascot and an air about him.

A real standout is the sneaky sheriff, played fabulously by Ron Malyska. He can steal a scene simply by silently sneaking up the stairs. He gives a subtle, comedic performance that is utterly hilarious.

The murder-mystery-comedy is where the director Gene Golazevski excels. This genre is in his wheelhouse and he succeeds yet again with this production. Clearly he loves this work and does a fine job of bringing it to life.

Come out and see whodunit, and who didn’t, in this bucolic countryside hideaway, where the diamonds are missing and the bodies adding up. It is lots of fun!

Performances continue weekends through June 3, with most shows Friday and Saturday evenings at 8. Matinees are planned for Saturday, May 20, and Sundays, May 21 and 28 at 2 pm.

Please note the May 20 matinee is a special benefit for Friends of Newtown Seniors. 

Also, a special Thursday evening performance has been scheduled for June 1 at 8 pm.

Call 203-270-9144 or visit newtownplayers.org for full details including schedule and ticket reservations.

The Little Theatre, home of Town Players of Newtown, is at 18 Orchard Hill Road.

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