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Tuesday, Dec. 309


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Tuesday, Dec. 309


Updated March 18

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Updated June 1

This week:
Rob Jellett

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette




(Posted 7:30 a.m., Aug. 21)

Murder mystery dinner theatre returns to Cumberland museum
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

In ‘Nursing a Grudge’, Clara Waters played by Louisa Haché and Wilfrid Waters, played by Paul Fedor, are in town to recruit nurses for the war effort when a muder is committed. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The key to any good murder mystery theatre production is the acting. It is the actors who must sell the script and who must guide the audience through the early scenes.

It is also the actors' job to create and maintain a level of mystery that keeps the audience on their toes and in a state of complete confusion.

After four murder mystery theatre productions, the folks at Vintage Stock Theatre have nearly perfected the genre as evident by the fact that when the time came for the audience to guess who the killer was during the opening night production of “Nursing a Grudge” Saturday night, five different characters received at least 10 votes and the real murderer only received eight votes.

I’d tell you who the murderer was, but that would only ruin it for anyone contemplating seeing the encore presentation at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum this Saturday.

“Nursing a Grudge” is cleverly written by Vintage Stock Theatre veteran Marni Hunt Stephens who has risen from the ranks of victim in the 2003 production “Birthdays Can Be Murder”. Marni’s daughter Samantha and Tim Robinson do double duty as co-directors and actors in the murder mystery.

The play is set in a small Eastern Ontario town in 1914 at the very precipice of the First World War. Memories still linger of the Boer War and a national nursing drive is on to get young women to answer the call.

As in past murder mystery theatre productions put on by Vintage Stock Theatre, the grounds of the museum forms the set. As you pass through the doors of the museum entrance and out on to the grounds you’re offered a copy of the local paper The Village Echo which contains a number of stories from the period including a few that give some insight into some of the characters you’re about to meet.

After correctly figuring out both the murderer and the motive at last year’s murder mystery production, I was brimming with confidence that I’d be able to make it two for two. (Actually 2-for-4, since I was woefully off base the first two years.)

During “Nursing a Grudge”, a husband and wife recruiting team arrive in town to hold a nurse recruitment rally. Trouble is brewing, however, because the reverend’s daughter wants to become a nurse and he vehemently objects. At the same time the town is also visited by two adventurers, Yukon Eunice and Portia Cullen.

During the first two scenes the audience is introduced to the characters who intersperse with the crowd as the play develops. It is the audience’s job to interact with the characters and try and glean as much information from them as possible.

Scene I ends with the surprise entrance of one of the main characters. The actual murder takes place in Scene II.
The key to deducing a Vintage Stock Theatre murder mystery production is to be in the right place at the right time and to overhear the right conversation. It is also helpful to compare notes with other audience members.

By the time Scene VI takes place in the dining area, my list of potential suspects numbers 10. It is during Scene VI that we learn how all the characters are interconnected thanks to the questioning of Nurse Clara Waters, played by Louisa Haché.

Scene VI is also when dinner is served, which is always one of the highlights of any Vintage Stock Theatre murder mystery production. Dinner also affords members of the audience one last chance to question the various characters as they mingle from table to table.

By the time dessert is served it is decision time. At my particular table is Jan Teevan, who has been to two of the three previous productions and guessed the correct answer last year, and friends Alison Danforth, Katie Charles and Kelly who are all first timers.

Between the five of us we come up with four different answers. I have it down to A or B and pick B. As it turns out, it was A and Jan and Alison both won prices for properly deducing both the murderer and the motive.

All in all it was another enjoyable evening both in terms of the production and the dinner. Fantastic performances were turned in by the entire cast which includes David Ferguson, Louisa Haché, Tim Robinson, Erin McCloskey, Sam Stephens, Lori Kendell, Olivia Best, Paige Kendell, Paul Fedor, Chris Story, Sarah Benfield and Vicky Bolduc.

A limited number of tickets are still available for this Saturday’s production by calling the Vintage Stock Theatre hotline at 860-0603. Tickets are $45 each and include a buffet dinner by Steady Catering. The event is licensed and beverages are available at an additional cost.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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Bob Monette

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