By Thom deMartino
They say where there’s a will there’s a way — but they never stipulated the ways some might scheme to revise a will…
In the new (renewed?) Westminister Community Playhouse production of “Murder Runs In the Family”, the Pallfeather family is in disarray after the recent death of their patriarch. However, some have suspicions there might be more to it than a straightforward heart attack. And while daughter Heather (Robyn Couch) has arrived with her supposed beau-to-be Jack Sparks (Jared Rayment) — in reality a private investigator — there’s no shortage of potential suspects.
There’s the absent-minded matriarch Miriam (Kip Hogan), the droll and vaguely menacing manservant Montgomery (Michael Corcoran), the beautiful and flirty — if conniving — cousin Patricia (for this review, played by understudy Amber Toomey, while regularly portrayed by Nicole Kasprzyk), as well as her duplicitous and hotheaded husband Claude (Aaron Drapeylo).
Rounding off these unusual suspects are the precocious twin sister Coleen — er, Kathleen? — played with effervescent enthusiasm by Adriana Catanzarite; enigmatic prodigal half-sister and Sumo enthusiast Maxine (a delightfully deadpan Spencer Woolard); the cheeky (rimshot), seemingly benign eccentric Aunt Zelda (Laura Lejuwaan); and finally, the jittery, nerve-wracked executor of the will, Cleo Burdett (Kati Moore.)
With a family brought together by tragic loss — and perhaps not a little bit of avarice — the question remains: scheming intentions aside, could any of this dysfunctional excuse for a rogues’ gallery actually be a murderer? Worse still, with a fortune up for grabs, might someone else be next for an untimely demise?
After the harrowing events of the last 18 months, one would be forgiven for feeling as if they had slipped into some kind of Twilight Zone-esque universe next door: so much seeming the same, yet with so many unquestionable and irrefutable differences. WCP’s “Murder Runs In the Family” is no exception — while the same production was staged back in early 2020 (also directed by Jim Katapodis, with equal finesse), this is by no means the same show audiences were privy to last year.
Reprising their previous roles are Hogan, Corcoran, Couch and Woolard (as well as Kasprzyk), while newer members include Drapeylo, Catanzarite & Lejuwaan. Of particular note in our strange alternate universe is Rayment: having formerly portrayed Claude, he is now a variant Jack in this version — both standout performances, though his bumbling and haphazard P.I. in this production transcends his character from the previous show.
The outstanding rapport of the ensemble translates into excellent character interaction: there is a continuity of quality in Corcoran’s Montgomery, as with his other myriad portrayals in WCP productions; the comedic back-and-forth in the fictitious relationship between Couch’s Heather and Rayment’s Jack; and the trifecta of stand-out performances by Toomey, Catanzarite and Woolard.
With only a handful of dates left, Westminister Community Playhouse’s “Murder Runs In the Family” offers an intriguing weekend sojourn — with or without your own devious family — one you will be guaranteed to enjoy.
“Murder Runs In the Family”, Michael Corcoran, Robyn Couch and Jared Rayment star in this tale of murder, mayhem and that one time, three years ago, working the docks… Now playing through Aug. 22 at the Westminister Community Playhouse, 7272 Maple St, Westminster, CA 92683. Ticketing information available online at http://www.wcpstage.com, or call 714-893-8626. Appropriate for all ages, masks required.
Categories: Arts & Leisure