Review: Something’s Afoot at Vagabond Players

TheatreBloom rating:

Everyone’s life is in danger inside Lord Dudley Rancour’s Estate that sits on a deserted island in the English Lake district.  All of Director Eric Potter’s actors play a crucial role in the telling of this classically murderous tale. If one were to be familiar with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, they might find the story of Something’s Afoot familiar. But stay until the end…and you will find that the writers of this musical piece have twisted the story even more.

The entire story of Something’s Afoot takes place in the grand entrance hall of Mr. Rancour’s estate. The challenge of building such a room on a small stage was overcome quiet well by Mr. Maurice “Moe” Conn. I found the set to be rather impressive for such a small stage. The mechanics and cleverness of the murders were rather impressive and probably my favorite technical part of the show. The audience really feels as if you are in the great hall with the actors. The lighting, designed by Mr. Ed Lake, also helped set a haunting mood over the stage. When the musical numbers began, however, it was difficult to hear a few of the actors’ lyrics. Somewhere within the bowels of Mr. Rancour’s Estate is Conductor and Keyboardist Charlotte Evans and percussionist Lisa Wood, who could be heard loud and clear in the audience. 

Jane C. Boyle as Miss Tweed in Something's Afoot at The Vagabond Players
Jane C. Boyle as Miss Tweed in Something’s Afoot at The Vagabond Players Tom Lauer

All of the actors within this production are uniquely different and really add to the entertainment value of the show. The high light performance was delivered by Ms. Jane C. Boyle in her portrayal of Miss Tweed. The character of Miss Tweed is somewhat of a detective and busybody that is constantly taking charge and trying to solve the murders that keep occurring within the house, a portrayal that Boyle embodies fully. Boyle’s delivery of some comedic one-liners is fantastic. Her ability to stay upright with all of the liquor her character throws back if astonishing.

Tammy Oppel (left) as Lettie and Gary Dieter (right) as Flint in Something's Afoot at The Vagabond Players
Tammy Oppel (left) as Lettie and Gary Dieter (right) as Flint in Something’s Afoot at The Vagabond Players Tom Lauer

Gary Dieter has outdone himself in his portrayal of Flint, the grounds keeper. The musical number “Dinghy” is the comedic high point of the entire show. It is a light-hearted musical romp between Flint and the house keeper, Lettie, who is played by Ms. Tammy Oppel. Their goofy chemistry during this number was a hoot.  Tammy Oppel’s performance was also entertaining but there were times I had trouble hearing her lines when she was drowned out by the music, and at times her thick accent obscured her words as well. Her facial expressions, however, were extremely amusing throughout the show.

Making his Vagabonds debut was Dean Allen Davis. Mr. Davis played Mr. Rancour’s nephew, Nigel.  His vocals were very smooth, which made his arrogant character somewhat likable. Mr. Steve Antonsen played Colonel Gillweather, and I’m sorry, but— SPOILER ALERT— here in this murder mystery, the Colonel does not survive. The way Antonsen handles Colonel Gillweather’s death scene is worth the price of admission. As is the duet, “The Man with the Ginger Mustache,”  between the Colonel and Lady Grace Manley-Prowe, played by Ms. Elton Elizabeth Knupp. Ms. Knupp’s performance reminded me of the days of dramatic Hollywood actresses which fit her character very well. Costume Designer Tracy Bird did well with Lady Grace’s outfit, making it the most fun out of anybody’s in the show.

Elizabeth Elton Knupp (left) as Lady Grace Manley-Prowe and Steve Antonsen (right) as Col. Gillweather in Something's Afoot at Vagabond Players
Elizabeth Elton Knupp (left) as Lady Grace Manley-Prowe and Steve Antonsen (right) as Col. Gillweather in Something’s Afoot at Vagabond Players Tom Lauer

I can only imagine how much fun this piece of theater was to direct for Mr. Eric Potter. Everything came together very well for a tricky and fast moving script. All of the performers appeared to know their character and what the character’s purpose was within the play. This is not a show that requires major dancing but Choreographer Ernie Ritchey made all the movements on stage fit the space and the production well.

So the question is….Who is going to die first?  Is it Lady Manley-Prowe?? The Colonel?? Will anyone survive?? Who knows!?!? So best buy a ticket to this murderous romp and find out!

Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes with one intermission

Something’s Afoot plays through November 15, 2015 at The Vagabond Players— 806 S. Broadway in the heart of Fells Point in Baltimore, MD. For tickets call the box office at (410) 563-9135 or purchase them online.

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