"A totally fun mystery who-dunnit"
SETTING: An evening in the game room of Victor Winslow’s lavish mansion in Beverly Hills. The walls primarily consist of built-in bookcases that contain stacks of board games such as Monopoly and Clue. The room and hall lights are lit, giving the set a soft glow. After a beat, Brenda, the maid, enters through the doorway carrying a bowl of ice cubes.
Brenda: Durwood! You nearly scared me to death!
Durwood: (the very reserved butler) I deeply apologize, Miss Brenda, although I suppose scaring you to death would be most appropriate on this particular evening, would it not?
Brenda: Huh? Oh, you mean the murder game. I’ll have no part of that, thank you very much!
Durwood: …Does Maureen have the food prepared?
Brenda: Almost…Don’t worry – we’ll be ready by midnight, as ordered.
Durwood: (checking his watch) It’s nearing twelve o’clock now.
When powerful millionaire Victor Winslow (Mehrdad Modjtahedi), producer of a popular T.V. soap opera, invites members of the cast and crew to his mansion for a party, the evening takes a deadly turn in “13 Past Midnight,” a comedy by Billy St. John performing October 11th through 13th at Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department. Winslow has announced that the soap, “Hold Back the Night,” will be the basis for a new murder mystery game called “13 Past Midnight.” He also reveals that, at the same time, he plans on firing certain members of the show’s cast and crew, as well as dumping his wife, Kathryn, played by Samantha Green. It's going to be a big night!
But after dinner and before the game begins, the host gives the players ample motives to want to kill him. And someone in the group, apparently, has taken the motivation seriously. Suddenly, the game becomes deadly when Winslow is discovered stabbed in the neck with a dart, and he winds up dead — for real! Pete Griffin (Alexander Ruiz), a private investigator hired to act as a consultant, has been commissioned to try to trap the murderer before he or she can strike again.
All the cast members were phenomenal, and presented remarkable performances. The cast includes Phoebe Jeanne Thompson as Brenda the maid, Shane Reichel as Durward, Thea McLean as gossip columnist Lila Lamont, and Ana Fujimoto as soap opera star Toni Crawford. In addition, Audrey Lee is the head soap opera writer Eve Fulton, Joshua Gorrell is soap opera star Skyler Trent, and Roxanne Westerlin is Allison Trent, his wife.
Erick Boucher plays Talbert Worthington, an older character actor on the show who has a great scene when he tries to bash open a child-proof medicine bottle with his cane, Chere Yurina, is totally terrific as Louise Burke, an older character actress who plays Talbert’s TV wife, and Zac Thorn portrayed Chad Martin, the soap opera juvenile lead. Emily Flosi was divine as Zara Dare, a soap opera ingenue who just might be the next Mrs. Victor Winslow, Justyn Franco Gonzalez became Gary Anderson, soap opera director, and Raeloni Bender played Maureen O’Malley, the cook.
It's a show full of laughs, chills and twists, a comedy/mystery that centers around a murder investigation that some consider a very difficult genre to master. Director Candice M. Clasby's rendition, however, presented a magnum opus of accomplishment and gave attendees a very enjoyable evening of fun and suspense. Ms. Clasby gives us some further insight on how the show was developed:
“My duties, aside from conceptualizing the show, deciding on how to stage the show, and which actors to cast is to also collaborate with designers. We discuss my concept and then decide on costume, lighting, set, and prop concepts that work with my overall concept for the show. Then we develop the designs together and I incorporate the designer’s thoughts into my blocking and work with the actors. Tech is where everything comes together.”
Working towards a completely immersive and dramatic experience, Director Clasby consulted with sound designer Chris Sison to compose a theme song, interludes, and special effects for the show.
“Pre-show, we have sort of a 1970s, soap opera, cheesy vibe, almost like you’re in a lounge or elevator," says Sison. "This then rolls into the main theme, which is very psycho-circus, really bouncy and crazy,” said Sison. “Throughout the show we have some really funny stingers and really cheesy things. For the most part it is very light hearted and comical.”
Scenic Designer is Kevin Clowes, Costumes designed by Rachael Lorenzetti, Lighting by Tiana Alderson and Makeup by Carrie Wogaman.
The show premiered Thursday Oct. 11th in the Bronwyn Dodson Theater to sell-out crowds. A totally fun mystery who-dunnit that capped off the night perfectly with a bit of high suspense and a barrel full of laughs.
National Youth Arts