The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders. Left (The Sweets): Niles Welch, Shelly Marquart Reid, and Andrew McGill; Middle: Joe Monroe; Right (The Nutcrackers): Maggie Gardner, Tracy Marx, and Candace Kresse. Photo by Beth Olliges.


The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders

Script and lyrics by A.S. Waterman
Directed by Erica Goldsmith and Beth Olliges

Review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2015 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Whether you like it or not, holidays mean spending time with family. The current installment of WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater is all about two families coming together during the happiest time of the year, despite years of sour feelings. With murder and musical numbers, WhoDunnit’s The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders is a comedy that reminds us all that family may be irritating, but you gotta love ‘em.

The Nutcrackers and the Sweets are the two families at odds with one another. Forced to spend Christmas together and aptly named with holiday connotations, these families absolutely hate each other. With plenty of room within the script to play around with these heightened emotions, it’s clear these actors enjoy what they are doing. With eye rolling, constant judging, and awkward moments extended by the word “so…”, the cast takes each hostile moment and runs with it. The tension provided a great payoff when the characters experience opposite emotions in a moment of release that extends all the way up to the play’s unexpected twist.

I won’t have the chance to see the other cast play these parts, as this show is double cast; nonetheless I am willing to bet that the performances are just as funny and entertaining. John Lina as Walnott Nutcracker is a cantankerous grump holding steady to a familial grudge. Candace Kresse plays Pistachia Nutcracker as a high society debutante who only wants what is best for her family, despite the harsh words spoken behind the opposing family’s back. Niles Welch provides some great comedic moments, especially in the second scene dance number. Without giving too much away, his pirouettes were on point. Beth Olliges has a dual role as Trifle Sweet and Co-director of the show. With hands constantly wringing and emotional responses to, well, everything, Olliges creates a caricature of worrisome mothers everywhere. Gary Crockett brings humor, mystery and mayhem as the lonely lodger, Roger.

Andrew McGill and Maggie Gardner play amiable cousins Cane and Almondine. With McGill and Gardner, the play teeters seamlessly into a Romeo-and-Juliet scenario, yet these actors make sure to keep a safe distance in moments of close intimacy. As Cane and Almondine, it is their duty to lead the audience one way while subtly setting up the plot twist, and these two actors do well building up their so-called scandalous secret until the great reveal, earning the uproariously verbal reaction from the audience.

So if you’ve ever encountered awkwardly tense conversation on Christmas with relatives you just can’t stand, or you’re simply dreading the holidays, WhoDunnit’s The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders proves that you are not alone.

The Nutcracker-Sweet Murders

November 14, 2015-January 9, 2016

WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater
Bristol Bar and Grille on Main Street
614 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 426-7100


Kate BarryKate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and as well. Thanks for reading!