The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

Reviewed by Harrison Held

 Emily Rose McLeod (l.) , Anne Leyden,Jacque Lynn Colton, Donald Moore, Scott Seiffert. All photographs by Charlie Mount

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a fun zinger full who-done-it trip to the past written by John Bishop. The frothy farce made its debut at New York's Circle Repertory Theatre and moved to Broadway in 1987. Theatre West premiered their crowd pleasing production of it this past Friday night which will play to October 18 helmed with great detail by acclaimed theatre director Michael Van Duzer. 

 Left: Kevin Yarbrough and Jacque Lynn Colton

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is good old fashioned silly escapist fun and the colorful performers are excellent and very well cast. The intriguing behind the scenes show business plot revolves around a backer's audition for a Broadway musical called "White House Merry-Go-Round" in an upstate New York mansion (nice set and lighting by Pettifogger and Yancey Dunham respectively) owned by wealthy theatre patron Elsa Von Grossenkneuten filled with eccentric quirky theatrical types, murder, passion and dark secret passage ways. The characters become trapped by a snowstorm, phone lines and electricity are cut and the bodies soon begin to pile up as the mysterious Stage Door Slasher and another homicidal lunatic begin to terrorize the group.

Donald Moore and Anne Leyden.

 Jacquie Lynn Colton is wonderful and funny as wealthy hostess Elsa Von Grossenkneuten. Michelle Holmes steals every scene she's in as her wry and sly German maid/cook Helsa Wenzel. Ivy Jones is terrific and colorful as Marjorie Baverstock. Anne Leydon is hilarious as hard drinking writer Bernice Roth with her character getting inspired to be creative at the most inopportune times. Smart good natured chorus girl/dancer Nikki Crandall is well played by Emily Rose McLeod and Donald Moore plays Roger Hopewell with flair and fun. Joe Nassi is great as the mysterious Patrick O'Reilly and is terrific at accents. Patrick T. Rogers strikes the right chords as New York comic Eddie McCuen who becomes smitten with chorus girl Nikki Crandall. Scott Seiffert plays distinguished film and theatre director Ken de la Maize very well and Kevin Yarbrough commands the stage as man on a mission investigator Michael Kelly. 

Joe Nassi and Michelle Holmes

Kudos to the excellent production staff that help make this production fly.  Performed in 2 one hour acts with one intermission. Thru October 18.  For more information visit or call 323 851 7977.  Enjoy!   

Emily Rose McLeod and Patrick T. Rogers.

Scott Seiffort, Ivy Jones and Jacquie Lynn Colton

Posted By Harrison Held on September 14, 2015 02:37 pm | Permalink