By Patrick Turner
It’s Christmas eve, 1936, and the man who made a career of portraying Sherlock Holmes on stage has a murder mystery of his own to solve.
The great American actor William Gillette has been shot while concluding another performance. He has invited members of his cast and other theatrical hangers-on, including a notorious critic, to his tricked-out Connecticut mansion, aka Gillette Castle, all with the aim of finding out who pulled the trigger.
To find out who that was, attend SOAP Theatre’s fall production of Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot November 2 to 4 at Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver.
In real life, Gillette adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s work for his own stage use. Ludwig’s play begins with Gillette, onstage at the high point of his career, being shot by a gunman in the audience. He lives — he is, after all, the star of the show.
Patrons will have a chance to see how the mystery unfolds and who was the cause of all the mayhem that takes place in the Gillette mansion. During Christmas eve revelry, one of the guests is stabbed to death and the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears. The danger and hilarity are non-stop in this glittering whodunit set during the Christmas holidays.
This play was named the “Best Mystery Play of 2012” by The Mystery Writers of America. “It is a fast-paced ensemble piece filled with great roles, and keeps everyone guessing ‘who done it?’ right up to the very end of the show,” says Ted Osborne, the veteran SOAP director who is the creative force behind this latest production. SOAP Theatre patrons will likely remember the non-stop laughter when SOAP presented Lend Me A Tenor in 2014, also by Ludwig.
The cast includes SOAP veterans and several new actors. Nathan Linders returns to the SOAP stage after almost two years off to play William Gillette, an eccentric yet lovable, actor extraordinaire.
Always a mother, Martha Gillette lives with William in his Connecticut castle. She will be played by SOAP newcomer, Connie Mythen.
Jim Dinwoodie debuts with SOAP as Felix Geisel, a member of William’s theatre ensemble, and William’s friend since childhood.
Angela Stuart is back from being a cook in Don’t Dress for Dinner, to play Madge Geisel, Felix’s wife and also a member of the ensemble.
SOAP veteran, Craig Bjornson, is back, now as Simon Bright, a sometimes naïve but always earnest member of the ensemble.
Jen Jensen returns to be type cast as Aggie Wheeler, sweet, lovable and adoring member of the cast.
Inspector Goring will be played by Andrea Furlan in her first SOAP role in front of the curtain. A local police officer, Goring is sometimes addled but known for closing cases.
The most unexpected guest, Daria Chase, is a local theatre critic who never stops, to be played by Diane Gludovatz.
The Game’s Afoot will be presented on the stage of Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver Nov. 2 to 4, with a 2 pm matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 4. Regretfully, SOAP is not able to bring this play to Osoyoos because of the complex set which has been designed and constructed by cast member Craig Bjornson.
The play is produced by Patrick Turner and Andrea Furlan.
Advance tickets are available online at www.venablestheatre.ca. Limited seat selection is also available at Your Dollar Store With More in Osoyoos and Sundance Video in Oliver. There are volume discounts for those purchasing 10 or more tickets by contacting the ticket office at 250-498-1626.
A shuttle bus has been arranged for Osoyoos patrons wishing to attend one of the two performances scheduled for Saturday. Cost will be by donation. Space is limited. Please call 250-485-7248 to reserve a seat.
The Game’s Afoot is the first of three plays being produced by SOAP Theatre for the 2017-2018 season. Also in the works is Norm Foster’s Old Love in February and Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley in April.
More information on the 2017-18 season is available at www.soplayers.ca