(Posted 10:30 a.m., June 25)
mystery production no poultry undertaking
By Fred Sherwin
Ou-de-Nid, played by Lauara Grunder, interacts with a meber
of the audience during Vintage Stock Theatre's murder mystery
production 'A Fowl Business' on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo
an 20 month hiatus, the Vintage Stock Theatre company presented their
murder mystery dinner production last weekend and by all counts it
was one of their best efforts to date.
Fowl Business" is centred around chicken farmer Henry Cluckel
and his prize laying hen "Eggie", who has mysteriously disappeared.
During the first scene, which is played out entirely on the grounds
of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, Cluckel enlists the help
of two characters with dubious motives.
is William Showentelle, a private investigator from Montreal, while
the other is Madame Ou-de-Nid, a clairvoyant whose powers become stronger
the more coins you give her.
of them have a clue as to the chicken's whereabouts until Cluckel
recieves a ransom note. He then agrees to pay Showentelle $200 if
he can find Eggie. As colateral he signs over the deed to his farm.
final scene the town gathers for the annual egg race, which Cluckel
presides over. When he goes to give the winner his prize, which is
contained in a rather large box, he pulls out a dead Eggie which causes
him to have a heart attack and die. Dun-dun-da. The question is, "Who
killed the bird and placed it in the box."
haven't been to a Vintage Stock murder mystery production they're
a hoot. The audience gets to interact with the characters and vice
versa, which can lead to a lot of improvisation depending on the level
of participation by the audience members.
to the production on Saturday and it was fabulous. The energy level
of the actors was off the charts, especially that of Vintage Stock
veteran Dan Smyth as Chuck Cluckel and newcomer Francis Kenny as his
friend Randolph Feedwell, who set the tempo in the opening scene.
Their dialogue was crisp and they constantly moved through the audience,
helping to draw them into the play.
Benfield as Showentelle's whiskey sipping traveling companion Tootsie
Spinnie and Micheline Mathon as Gladys McHeffer also did a wonderful
job as did Ian McGregor as cheese maker Gustav Rottenschmell and Dayna
MacDonald who played McHeffer's daughter Lilly.
which stood out in particularly were those turned in by Laura Grunder
who played the hysterically eccentric Madame Ou-de-Nid and Hayden
Smith who played Eggbert Sunnyside (aka Chicken Boy) and is likely
still in character a week after the production wrapped up. I especially
loved Ou-de-Nid, when she went into one of her trances, while Smith
is one of the east end's most promising up and coming actors.
of the cast was rounded out by Jenn Jarvis who played school teacher
Molly Pennib; Paul Sales as William Showentelle; Zach Hanson as Chuck
Cluckel's son Henry; Kirsten Jensen as Tippy Windmill, a bizarre woman
who believes humans descended from chickens; and siblings Tyler and
Sydney Smith who played Molly's niece and nephew.
real star of the production is writer and directer John Cook, whose
twisted mind came up with the crazy script and worked on the cast's
trying to figure out who committed the heinous crime, I was at a complete
loss, but then again I failed to guess the murderer correctly in four
choices were William Showentelle, who would benefit from Cluckel's
death by taking over his farm and Gladys McHeffer whose husband died
in a barn fire which she believed Cluckel had deliberately started.
strange reason I picked Chicken Boy. Actually I picked him because
he told me he put the chicken in the box not thinking that he might
be lying. As it turned out I was the only member of the audience who
picked Eggbert Sunnyside, which either makes Hayden Smith a great
actor or me the world's most gullible audience member in the world.
culprit was Gladys McHeffer who killed Cluckel out of revenge with
the help of Madame Ou-de-Nid, who turned out to be Gladys' sister-in-law.
was a huge success right down to the irony of having chicken as one
of the dinner entrees. This is the first year Vintage Stock has held
their murder mystery dinner production in June and it's a perfect
fit. One small suggestion would be to try and tie it in to the Fringe
Festival for some added publicity.
those of you who didn't get to the play, I strongly suggest that you
put it on your social calendar for next year. I promise you will be
thoroughly entertained and well fed.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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