A Good Old-Fashioned Mystery
………………………………………………………………………………….by Scott Myers
I was out wandering around (in my air-conditioned car, of course) and saw a line of cars filing in to what used to be Jewel Box Theatre’s old home but instead they were driving down a slightly different road (I followed the many signs along the road) to what appeared to be their NEW venue. I found myself curiously drawn into this building which advertised The Vultures, by Mark A. Ridge. I picked up a program , without opening it, and found a comfortable seat. on a raised platform overlooking the library set (competently designed by Shawn Hancock) I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that immediately I noticed a substantially larger playing area in front of a stage. Jewel Box’s attempt to recognize that we’re still in a pandemic presented neatly printed signs attached to certain prime seat real estate that masked patrons were allowed to sit in those marked rows. Much to my surprise and chagrin, nobody occupying those center row seats had a mask on or anything even resembling a face cover. That was just one of the many mysteries presented to this reviewer.
The vultures are introduced to us one by one through the comical “Transylvanian accented” Talbot played by Teri Hood. She appears to be brought back from the dead (or close to it) and the servant to David Patterson’s family attorney, Mr. Crosby who is charged with reading the will of the play’s long dead (20 years dead) Simon West whose picture is illuminated throughout the play. The next vulture we meet is underwear model Harrison Blythe energetically played (with his clothes on) by James Coplen. Lana Henson and Meredith Harrison then enter as an uptight distant relative and the younger free spirit, respectively.
Renni Anthony Magee is introduced to us as Charles, “call me Charlie” followed by Cam Taylor as Paul Jones. David Burkhart as Hunter West is the next vulture to enter. He gets the lion’s share of stage time in the 2nd of this 3-act murder mystery which plays at 2 hours and 40 minutes including 2 intermissions. This delightful cast is rounded out by Robert Mills and Larry Harris. Karalyn Merritt, Director, has done a great job assembling a diverse cast full of energy to play out this murder mystery full of twists and turns. A review of a production generally does not mention audience seating unless it is very bad or in this case extremely wonderful. Doug Monson, owner of House of Kawasaki and Skyler Ward of Cabinetry and Construction deserve to be called out for their immense donations to provide Jewel Box with great tiered audience seating!!
This production deserves to run for months instead of a few short weekends so that a larger audience can be entertained by this evening of fun, mayhem and oh did I say murder mystery?