The Cheyenne Little Theatre is performing the farcical comedy mystery play While the Lights Were Out from March 24 to April 9, 2017 at the Atlas Theatre, located on Lincolnway just a few yards away from the Wrangler western clothing store and the Cheyenne Depot.
The playwright, Jack Sharkey, has dozens of plays to his credit. While The Lights Were Out was one of his last, first produced in 1988.
Here’s the description of the play, from the “packaged publicity” for it:
A Thunderstorm! The lights go out! An agonized voice! A pistol shot! The lights come up! A blonde in black lace stands over the dead man holding a bloody dagger! The detective examines the body and announces “He’s been strangled! This is but the opening of one of the most astounding and hilarious murder mysteries ever staged. Every clue is a lulu and the plot twists furiously. The final solution involves the most bizarre motive ever conceived! The delightful evening of mayhem gallops madly about the stage and will leave your audience breathless with surprise and laughter. The mystery is topnotch, the character marvelous and the comedy explosive!
The setting of the play is Popliteal Beach, Bermuda. A retired neurosurgeon, the wealthy but skinflint Lord Clive Wickenham lives with his wife Lady Monica Wickenham in a large estate situated on a cliff overlooking Popliteal Beach, along with their adult son Algernon.
It’s the start of a weekend and Lord Clive is upset because his wife has invited many people to the house.
There’s the beautiful woman from Alabama, Jasmine Perdoo, whom they met on a recent cruise. There’s Fredonia Custardine and her daughter Chloe. There’s Pierre Pourri, a French sea captain and former patient of Lord Clive, who was engaged to fashion designer Bibi Cavendish until she broke off the engagement when he began to let himself go sartorially. Bibi Cavendish is also a guest, as she is now engaged to marry Algernon. Lord Clive insists that Algernon marry her, even though he is in love with Chloe Custardine, and since he has no money of is own and isn’t good at anything except playing tennis….
Also in the house are the butler, Roderick Remley, and the parlourmaid, the Jamaican Mimosa, pressed into service as cook as the previous cook has been fired.
Also paying a visit to the home are the police – Inspector Benjamin Braddock and his assistant Sergeant Alma Threedle – summoned by a mysterious message.
The guests begin to arrive and the atmosphere becomes fraught – there’s no drinkable water (Bermuda has no water wells, so rain water must be collected) and only one bottle of water left. All that can be drunk is liquor!
Pierre continues to pursue Bibi even though she’s engaged to another. Algernon pines for Chloe and has a plan – unspecified – to get money so he can marry her. Lady Monica becomes more and more disgusted with Lord Clive’s skinflint ways.
And then….the lights go out! There’s a shot! Shouts! The lights go on and it’s Lord Clive on the floor, dead. A beautiful blonde (who will turn out to have lost her memory…or claim to….) with a bloody dagger in her hand stands over him. Inspector Braddock examines the body – Lord Clive has been strangled!
While The Lights Were Out is a farce which sends up several mystery play conventions. For example, the next scene opens with most of the characters, including his wife and son, expressing their dislike of the victim, until Inspector Braddock interrupts them in shock. It’s a murder investigation – no one is supposed to admit to hating the dead man!
While The Lights Were Out actually does play fair with the audience – there are many clues given throughout the course of the talky first two acts (but you need to pay attention) before the third act – the denouement and solution of the mystery – begins. The solution is implausible, but it’s fun, so sit back, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the ride.
- Lord Clive Wickenham – Rory Mack
- Lady Monica Wickenham – Erin Kendall
- Nancy Stafford – Lois Hansen
- Roderick Remley – Glenn Shaffer
- Mimosa – Josie McDaniel
- Inspector Benjamin Braddock – Jeff Miller
- Sergeant Alma Threedle – Heather Welch
- Jasmine Perdoo – Jocelyn Reed
- Bibi Cavendish – Nancy Stange
- Pierre Pourri – John Joslin
- Algernon Wickenham – Mac Rogers
- Fredonia Custardine – Amy Threewit
- Chloe Custardine – Rebecca Chiapetto
- Mysterious Blonde – Jennifer Lebeck
- Tom Groggins -Thomas Chamberlain
The Cheyenne Little Theatre’s production of While the Lights Were Out will be performed through Sunday, April 9, 2017.
- Friday, March 31: 7:30 pm
- Saturday, April 1: 7:30 pm
- Sunday, April: 2, 2 pm
- Friday, April 7: 7:30 pm
- Saturday, April 8: 7:30 pm
- Sunday, April 9: 2 pm
Upcoming at the Cheyenne Little Theatre
- The Pillowman: April 21-23, 2017 at the Atlas Theatre (three days only, not part of their regular season)
- Into the Woods: May 5 – May 21, 2017 at the Mary Godfrey Playhouse