|Tom Staudenheimer, Kaitlin Abel, Makayla Staudenheimer, Conrad
Newman, John Collins and Beth Olliges in Till Undead Do Us Part.
Photo courtesy of WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater.
Till Undead Do Us Part
Written, produced and directed by A.S. Waterman
Reviewed by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2012 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater shows are set within a specific structure of alternating scenes and dinner courses, but the latest offering, the season opener Till Death Do Us Part, shakes up the format slightly with the setting of a celebrity wedding with paparazzi in attendance, staging a brief but decidedly macabre ceremony before the first course. Why macabre? The bride and groom are undead creatures –vampires in fact.
The setting of a wedding reception maximizes the dinner table environment of an event room in the Hyatt, unobtrusively pressing the entire audience into service as supporting players. When time came for the traditional tossing of the bridal bouquet, single women from the audience took to the “stage” with enthusiasm. The device was made particularly effective because of a large table of thirtysomethings celebrating a birthday. It was closely followed by a garter throw in which the bridegroom discovers various unexpected items from beneath his betrothed’s skirt – a skeletal hand and various creepy crawlies among them – interjecting a mild note of kink into the otherwise G-rated story. Well, at least as G-rated as a wedding between vampires that includes a murder can be.
The whole thing is brought off with tongue firmly in cheek, with a good attention to detail that includes fang-baring taking the place of air-kisses, and characters proclaiming, “What the heaven?” instead of the usual epithet. My favorite might have been the use of a juice-like plasma bag with the two straws to seal the deal in the ceremony itself.
Although the story is a silly and entertaining Halloween treat, I appreciate the added layers arising from satire that targets two current trends in the media landscape: ubiquitous, tony vampire stories, and the gratingly self-absorbed celebrities who are famous for being famous that dominate reality television. Think “Kardashian.”
A game group of actors played under various levels of white make-up and gothic/comic costumes, with Conrad Newman and John Collins proving the most assured as the groom and his “worst man.” Makayla Staudenheimer brought just enough glamour, raven-haired good looks, and narcissism to clinch the Kardashian connotation, while Kaitlin Abel, Beth Oliges, Tom Staudenheimer, Kelsi Simpson and Jason Kurtz rounding out the cast in solid fashion. WhoDunnit veteran Jeff McQueen seemed to be having a good time on the sidelines as the wedding DJ, playing a varied mix of oldies and dance tunes.
Editor’s Note: WhoDunnit roles are double-cast to accommodate their particular schedule, and some actors mentioned here may not be appearing when you attend.
Till Undead Do Us Part
October 5 – 27, 2012
Every Friday & Saturday
Seating at 6:30 / Show starts at 7:00
Special brunch performance on October 14.
WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre
Performing at the Hyatt Downtown
320 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202