Volume 10 Week 10

Sunday, Dec. 14


Updated March 2

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 8:30 a.m., June 25)

Murder mystery dinner theatre production a 'must see'
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Daisy Grantham, played by Sam Stephens (middle), is lead away by Davina Grainger, played by Sherry Thurig (left) and Millie Throgmorton, played by Marni Hunt-Stephens, during a scene in Vintage Stock Theatre's murder mystery dinner theatre production of 'Murder by Stitches'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

For the past six years, the Vintage Stock Theatre Company has been producing and presenting murder mystery dinner theatre events on the grounds of the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum to rave reviews.

Last year, they switched the event from late August to mid-June with the production of "A Fowl Business" which was well received by the audience.

This year they have come up with yet another inventive method to kill off the victim and sorting through all the suspects is as confusing as ever.

"Murder by Stiches" takes place in a fictional village on the eve of a garden party that's been organized to raise money for the Red Cross during the Second World War. The rather eccentric townsfolk are all a flutter over the goings on and can barely contain their excitement.

The organizer of the big event is Davina Grainger played by Sherry Thurig who makes her return to Vintage Stock after a two year hiatus.

One of the special guests is an industrialist named Binghamton Grantham, played by Francis Kenny. Grantham is accompanied by his nurse Hester Billingsly, played by Sylvie Lapointe, and his lovely new wife Daisy Grantham, who is played by Samantha Stephens.

So here's the twist. Grantham is partially deaf, which is the result of a blast at a diamond mine which he apparently played a role in. The mind was owned by a Swede named Sven Gali, played by Andre Dimitrijevic, who is now a chef and just happens to be preparing food for the garden party.

When the Chef sees a large diamond necklace around Miss Daisy's neck, he swears revenge and vows to get his diamonds back. He also makes several overt threats upon Grantham's life.

There are several other players in this tawdry affair, including Lachlan McLachlan, played by Ian McGregor, who was a former business associate of Grantham's and who avoided being killed in the diamond mine blast. Aloysious B. Charnsworth, played by the irreverent John Cook, is an inventor os sorts and a pretty poor one at that. Millie and Tillie, are two cockney cleaning ladies, played by Vintage veterans Susan Flemming and Marni Hunt-Stephens. And last, but by no means least, there's little Petunia Morningstar, played by Emma Leclair.

As the play unfolds it's clear that Sven Gali is no fan of Grantham's and niether is McLachlan. Nurse Billingsly is feeding her client pills like there's no tomorrow and we discover that Daisy is deathly allergic to coconut.

And then there's the mysterious Hastings Chillwicket who apparently was engaged to Daisy before he mysteriously "disappeared". According to the village newspaper which the audience members receive when they arrive at the museum, Chillwicket was "a bit of an odd duck" and always writting telegrams which is interesting because Daisy kept receiving telegrams during the play.

The best part about a Vintage Stock murder mystery production is that guessing who's going to be murdered is almost as much fun as guessing who did it. In "Murder by Stitches" we don't find out who the vistim is until near the end of Act 2, when Grantham comes reeling though a gate with a knitting needle embedded in his neck, clutching a rose that was given to Davina Grainger early in the play.

The list of suspects includes his wife Daisy who he made the executor of his estate; Nurse Billingsly who it turns out was written out of his will; Sven Gali the Chef; Lachlan McLachlan the former business associate; and of course the mysterious Hastings Chillwicket, we never actually get to see.

I won't ruin the ending for you now, but suffice it to say and failed tyo figure out who the murder was. In fact, my pick ended up being the first character ruled out. This is the fifth or sixth year in a row that I've failed to figure out who the culprit was. Last year in "A Fowl Business", I guessed the Chicken Boy, who was played by Hayden Smith, and was dead wrong.

This year I once again let Smith, who is an excellent actor by the way, throw me off. Hayden wasn't in the play this year, but he did sit at my table during dinner and as we were sorting through the suspects he came up with the rather plausible theory that Grantham wasn't killed by a knitting needle. The murder weapon he conjectured was a pork skewer.

Now, ordinarily I would have scoffed at his suggestion, but I did see blood on the wooden spoon Sven Gali had been carrying around, which is why I went with the Swedish Chef. Worng again. Thanks Hayden.

All I can say is that if you are a fan of murder mystery theatre, you will love 'Murder by Stitches' -- and the food isn't bad either. Vintage Stock Theatre present "Murder by Stitches" this Saturday at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. Showtime is 6 p.m. and tickets are $45 each including dinner.

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

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