‘Murder’ prompts laughs at Gallery Theatre

Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Theatrical Review

By Caroline Stephenson

AHOSKIE – The Gallery Theatre in Ahoskie has done it again!

Their latest production, “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat from start to finish. This murder-themed comedy is full of too many twists, turns, and ironies to mention here, but is sure to entertain.

The play is directed by Ralph Hewitt, who also serves as the Gallery’s Executive Director.

It’s Christmas time as Act One begins. Arlene Miller (Hope Miller) and her dentist lover, Mitchell Lovell (Tommy Hurdle), meet up in a hotel room to lure her used car salesman husband Paul Miller (James Bassford) to his death. Arlene is unhappy in her marriage to Paul who has a closet full of gray suits and has no “lust for life.” Mitchell is the exact opposite; colorful, spontaneous, and passionate.  Divorce is not an option, so they decide that death is the only solution to get Paul out of the picture. Murder, however, sounds a lot easier than it really is.

It’s July 4th as Act Two opens at the hotel. Arlene holds a bottle of pills, calls Mitchell saying she is going to end it all, and hangs up. Paul enters carrying presents for Arlene, saying, “I thought chicken and beer would cheer you up.”

Since the separation, Paul has been going through some life changes.  He’s added a dash of color to his drab wardrobe and has taken a self-realization class in order to get in touch with who he really is.  Arlene has been betrayed by Paul and is devastated.  The husband and wife decide to call off their divorce and now it’s Mitchell they need out of the picture. Mitchell hastily enters to see Arlene before she takes her life and he realizes that he’s the one in death’s sights now.

Act Three begins on New Year’s Eve at the hotel.  Paul and Mitchell, dressed in their finest, are in the middle of constructing the final solution to the entire messy love triangle. Arlene, at the pinnacle of selfishness, has now betrayed both men and they are plotting the ultimate revenge.  Arlene enters under the pretense that she meeting her new beau, but she soon realizes now that it’s her neck in the noose. The threesome, during Arlene’s final moments, realize that everyone’s at fault. There’s a knock at the door and one final twist.

Kudos to Director Hewitt who has crafted a high quality, flawless community theatre experience.  Hats off to the tiny, three person cast who does an incredible job of bringing these flawed and complicated characters to life.

The set design, set dressing, costumes, lighting and sound are impeccable.  The months and countless hours of hard work by all involved make for an enjoyable time at the theater.

Due to some mature language, “Murder” may not be appropriate for children under 13.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on May 2, 3, 9, and 10, and 2:30 p.m. on May 4. General admission tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for senior citizens (ages 62-and-over); and $8 for students (ages 6-18).

For more information, call 252-332-2976 or visit www.gallerytheatre.org.