The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
 by John Bishop
 Stetson University Theatre Arts “Second Stage”
 November 2013

In this play, the creative team responsible for a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were murdered by the mysterious "Stage Door Slasher") assemble for a backer's audition of their new show at the Westchester, NY estate of a wealthy "angel," Elsa von Grossenkneuten. The house is replete with sliding panels, secret passageways and a laconic and secretive German maid—all of which figure diabolically in the comic mayhem which follows when the infamous "Slasher" makes his reappearance and strikes again—and again. As the composer, lyricist, actors and director prepare their performance, and a blizzard cuts off any possible retreat, bodies start to drop in plain sight, knives spring out of nowhere, masked figures drag their victims behind swiveling bookcases, and accusing fingers point in all directions. Eventually, the mystery is solved in the nick of time and the "Slasher" unmasked.

This play is a melange of styles. At its heart it is a comic spoof of murder mysteries, set (as the best ones are) in the 1940s and elevated to the level of farcical absurdity. There is also a strong metatheatrical element, as Frau Grossenkneuten's guests rehearse a new musical play, and the “roles-within-roles” played by some of the characters. As the press release put it: This is a play that has it all, a mash up where Scooby Doo meets Clue meets Quentin Tarantino meets Judy Garland and Mickey Rooneyp> meets Hogan’s Heroes, with a song or two thrown in for fun."

   

   

 

 

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Copyright © 2016 by Ken McCoy.