By Vanessa True
The production of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is coming to the Batavia stage on Feb. 1. As the opening night nears, the cast discusses the production. Broadway’s original The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 opened on April 6, 1987, playwright by John Bishop, and is now being transformed for the BFAC stage by director Joshua Casburn.
The thrilling comedy is about a series of confusing murders that takes place in an estate when a blizzard cuts off a team during auditions for their new play. The original Broadway show had 136 performances, but Batavia’s production of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 will be performing their rendition for three days, Feb. 1-3.
“This production has really come together slowly, but surely,” said senior Brandon Belair, who plays O’Reilley. “The pacing feels different. In the fact that it has a much more overall cohesive feel to past shows at this point.”
The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 has come a long way stated the cast.
“The production is finally falling into place,” said understudy, Katherine Domeier. “We are getting props, our set is almost fully constructed and as of yesterday (Jan. 25), we got costumes for the majority of the cast. All of the comedic pacing is starting to click with the actors and even for people like myself, the production team, and other understudies who are a part of the show, something new makes us laugh or even a bit that we’ve had since the beginning because it’s finally clicking and working properly.”
Belair also talked about the stress that comes with a large production.
“Sometimes we are scrambling when tech week comes about,” Belair said.
Max Micheli, who plays Eddie McCuen spoke on individual challenges about his this specific production.
“The biggest challenge for me is getting down the comedic timing for my character as he is supposed to be a comedian, but a bad one at that,” said Micheli.
Domeier said that the production has been particularly tough during flu season.
“It’s a very stressful part of theatre especially going into flu season and the ending week of rehearsal,” she said. “I really love understudying though because it means that if anything happens to whomever the show can go on.”
Through all the challenges that came with The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 the cast reflects on what makes this a performance one to look forward to.
“This show is on the main stage in the BFAC,” Micheli said. “The audience will be sitting on the stage for this show, so they will see everything and everyone much more clearly. There are secret passageways, revolving bookcases and set pieces that rise up in the air. It is unlike anything we have done before in terms of the technicality of the set.”
The technicality of this production adds to the element of surprise for the audience.
“This also means that our blocking and stage combat elements have to be perfect or the audience might either miss something important or see something too early,” Domeier said.
Belair also spoke on how the entirety of a production can change based on a director’s vision.
“We’re blessed at Batavia to have a fantastic theatre to create great sets that help give the shows a more professional approach,” Belair said.
The planning of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 has been taking place since the summer when the school’s drama program announced the list of shows for the following school year. It has strictly been in production since the end of November’s show, Cats. The team of 15 has had rehearsals every day after school and weekends till 8:30 PM.
“During this time we get all of our props and start acting on the set that we are still building,” Micheli said.
Belair discusses the final week and days leading to their curtain rising.
“They’re very hectic and taxing nature,” he said.
When the cast is asked about the pre-show jitters and stress they speak very highly of each other and the production as a whole, the humor helps all of them get through the challenges and that they are all very supportive of one another.