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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2014

Broadway Players present ‘Real Inspector Hound’

By VICKI TILLIS/Ledger lifestyles editor | Apr 17, 2013
Photo by: VICKI TILLIS/Ledger photo Inspector Hound (Jordan Whitney) announces his arrival at Muldoon Manor with a "fog horn."

The Broadway Players of FHS take the stage to present Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Fairfield High School Auditorium.

The short play — and it was short because the curtain rose at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the dress review and, even with a 15-minute intermission, I was home by 8:30 p.m. — follows two theater critics named Moon (Paige Holderbaum) and Birdboot (TJ Wood) who are watching a whodunit-style murder mystery. They eventually get involved in the play causing a series of events paralleling the play they are watching.

It might seem kind of confusing — watching a play in a play, but “The Real Inspector Hound” is funny, full of absurdities, farce, parody and satire, and all the mysteries, twists and turns are revealed at the end.

While the story is set in a theater, the play within the play is set in the lavish Muldoon Manor surrounded by “desolate marshes” and “treacherous swamps” and paradoxically located near a cliff. No one can enter or leave, so the characters know the murderer must be one of them.

The cast includes: Makena Dettman as Simon Gascoyne; Jaclyn Flinspach as Mrs. Drudge; Paige Holderbaum as Moon; Coren Hucke as Higgs; Jacob Kessel as Major Magnus; Shea Malloy as Cynthia Muldoon; Lalita Martin as Felicity Cunnigham; Jordan Whitney as Inspector Hound; and TJ Wood as Birdboot. Local radio personality Lee Muntz is the voice of the BBC.

Flinspach is wonderful as the old housemaid Mrs. Drudge. Her voice just sounds old, and her speech is as slow as her walk — it takes such a great effort for her to step over a dead body. But her hearing must be excellent because she testifies to overhearing several of the death threats issued by other characters.

Whitney plays the funny Inspector Hound. Not only does he howl — “Muldooooooon!” — but he also has some little yelps and barks in his speech and I caught him scratching at his ears at least once. When Hound arrives at the manor, he reminded me a bit of Peter Falk’s homicide detective Columbo — snooping around, wearing a trench coat, speaking in a gruff voice.

Dettman as Simon is the cute newcomer to the neighborhood. He’s sneaky, but that could be because he’s two-timing the rich Cynthia Muldoon and the cute, young blonde Felicity. And he doesn’t want to get caught because both women have threatened his life should he turn out to be a cheater.

Malloy portrays Cynthia as the important woman she is, gliding about the stage playing host to the manor guests. It’s the opposite of the bouncy, tennis-playing blonde Felicity played by Martin.

Kessel spends the majority of his time as Major Magnus, the half-brother of Cynthia’s missing husband, in an old-fashioned wheelchair. But don’t be fooled into thinking that slows him down. His booming, commanding voice takes charge — and he’s in love with Cynthia and claims he’ll murder anyone who comes between them.

As Higgs, Hucke probably has the easiest part in the whole play — no lines to learn. The only time I saw him move was during the curtain call at the end of the play.

Oh, there’s also Holderbaum and Wood as the two critics reviewing the play in the play. Most of the time, they are sitting in theater chairs in the orchestra pit at the front of the stage or walking up and down the aisles as they discuss the play, their personal lives and the whereabouts of their missing co-critic Higgs.

I don’t want to say too much about the characters or even the plot because after all, “The Real Inspector Hound” is a whodunit, and I don’t want to spoil the comedy/drama/suspense for anyone who hasn’t seen the play previously — and it could well be that many local people have since the Broadway Players dug into their vault of past productions to come up with this one. It was first staged in at FHS in the fall of 1987.

The production assistants for the current production include Rachel Biggs, Loreena Hucke and Clara Kelly, who open the play with a short introduction and a request for audience members to turn off cell phones and other electrical devices.

The set constructors and designers include Dakota Anderson, Brandon Francisco, Wava Jarr, Kiera Nelson, Seth Simmons, Jessie Warner and Krystal Weirup.

The technical crew includes Drew Grunwald, Laura Jackson, Jocelyn Neff and Brendan Schmitt under the direction of John Grunwald.

FHS teacher Scott Slechta is the director.

The Broadway Players of FHS will present “The Real Inspector Hound at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again at 2 p.m. Sunday in the FHS Auditorium.

Tickets will be on sale 30 minutes before curtain.

 

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