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'Party to Murder' Has More Twists, Turns than Drunk Snake

Erin P. Doherty
By Erin P. Doherty
Posted on Oct 25,2016
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Photo by Doug Olmsted
L to R: Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), Laura Peterson (Mrs. McKnight/Valerie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles)

Masterful Confusion by Design

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - This fast-paced murder mystery delivers everything enjoyable about this genre, including stage combat, thunderstorms, wind, explosives, séances, secret passageways, flickering shadows, and countless candles.The lighting, set (Bill Glikbarg and John Downing), and sound (David Correia) design aptly keep the audience in suspense.

Playwrights Marcia Kash and Douglas E. Hughes clearly admire Agatha Christie, referencing her play The Mousetrap in the script and hanging her oversize, illuminated portrait prominently above the fireplace. This portrait and a menacing jack o' lantern (Susan Driscoll) glow at opposite ends of the stage. Bonnie Jordan, a 38-year Little Theatre veteran—as a former actress and current single-act play judge and theatergoer— exclaimed, “Look at that set! It is gorgeous.”

Six privileged socialites—three men and three women—meet secretly at a rustic island cottage to play a murder mystery game on Halloween. Charles Prince (John Henderson) conveys a professorial charm as the writer who has authored this game. The winner who most plausibly solves the murder can name his or her prize. The cottage is the last-known whereabouts of the Phantom Five who, just like them, once gathered annually to play murder mystery games; that is, until they vanished.

Elwood (James McDaniel), the sadistic winner, demands individual favors meant to destroy each loser’s life.Willy (Damian John Legacy) who runs errands for Elwood and Elwood's girlfriend, McKenzie (Danielle Comer) who know Elwood best, are worried. Charles is intrigued yet skeptical. Henri (Eva Seville Coll) and Valerie (Laura Peterson) Addison are neutral newcomers.

The play’s direction (Jim Howard) is as well-timed as Willy’s one liners. It allows the actors to assimilate into their characters while stepping outside them just enough to see the humor in them.  Mr. Howard’s direction was stellar, despite the passing of his sorely missed and intended co-director (Roland Gomez) in July. Willy delivers perfectly timed and humorous one-liners. All actors embrace their roles fully and convincingly. McKenzie is a blasé supermodel and Elwood’s girlfriend. Henri hides her strength and motives behind her soft-spoken ways. Elwood escalates smoothly from congenial to intense. Valerie oozes persuasiveness and self-control. Frequent theatergoer Raymond Linkow remarked, “This show has more twists and turns than a pretzel!”

The show features frequent mistaken assumptions and identities, which keep the ending a surprise. It also reminds us of one of life’s truths: Things are not always what they seem.

As always, the after party caterer (Ben Robles LVC) provided a beautiful presentation, outstanding quality, and cheerful service. Don’t miss “A Party to Murder”: It concludes on November 12 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St. Tickets are available either by calling 703-683-0496 or visiting the Web site at

Photo by Doug Olmsted
R to L: Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles), Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy)
Photo by Doug Olmsted
L to R: Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), Laura Peterson (Mrs. McKnight/Valerie), Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy)
Photo by Doug Olmsted
L to R: Eva Seville Coll (O’Karma/Henri), Laura Peterson (Mrs. McKnight/Valerie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy)
Photo by Doug Olmsted
James McDaniel (Rev. Merryweather/Elwood), Damian John Legacy (Ernie/Willy), Danielle Comer (Evelyn/McKenzie), John Henderson (Konrad/Charles)

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