Just imagine equal parts of Agatha Christie’s outlandish English characters, a male version of Miss Marple, and a creative comedic playwright who can blend the mix into a consistently funny two act play.
Put all those pieces together and just imagine the fun and silliness in Summit Theatre Group’s current production, “The Butler Did It,” by Todd Wallinger. Like all murder mysteries, everyone appears to have an alibi; everyone has something to hide; everyone seems to have opportunity. But, the one least suspected commits the unseen deed.
Just like old-time Whodunit’s all the suspects and unsuspecting victim collect in the first scenes of the play. And, as soon as the murder occurs, the suspects begin to spin their stories. In “The Butler Did It,” a renown murder novelist comes for a visit following the publication of her latest mystery. If this sounds like Murder She Wrote, it is. But this production overflows with comedy, split-second timing, funny characters, and unforseen twists and turns.
“The Butler Did It” parodies the Whodunit genre making an enjoyable, frivolous escape, perfect for a summer evening. The play relies on G-rated language and comedic performances by a talented cast. Add a beautifully designed set beyond previous Summit Theatre Group’s productions and sit back and enjoy.
The community theatre group continues to draw strong talent to their productions. Mark Hamilton displayed his comedic talent is casting and directing a fun-filled production. Some really strong performances came from Joe Caronia and Kristi Hibschman. But, all of the cast were strong in their performances. They knew their characters and delivered the punch lines with flair. The play does not demand a lot of physical comedy so the line delivery, facial expression and tonal inflections are paramount to the comedy’s effectiveness.
The cast in order of appearance is: Joe Caronia as Jenkins, Jessica Arnold as Sarah Jane, Brad Rackers as Trevor Barstow, Petra Allen as Gram, Stan Cole as Colonel Nigel Covington, Dana Reynolds as Lady Miranda Covington, Lindsay Lovejoy as Kat Covington, Jeremy Walter as Father Timothy, Kristi Hibschman as Edwina Corry.
The acting was strong throughout, no play works without the dedication of the behind the scenes team that makes the actors look and sound good. In this case, director Mark Hamilton assembled a top knotch crew to create a beautiful set, sound, lights, costumes to give characters life and personalities. The stand out for “The Butler Did It” is the set. Bill Weaver’s set is the most elaborate in recent years for Summit Theatre Group, and the set decorations made the play appear to be in a classy English manor house.The sound, costumes, lights all added a texture to the play that made it even more enjoyable to watch.
The production team is: Mark Hamilton, director; David Harris, assistant director; Gracie Heath, stage manager; Mike Hadley, technical director; Philip Leonard, lighting designer; Joyce Stone, costume designer; Jon Specht, sound designer; Bill Weaver, set designer; Jennifer Clark, production assistant.
“The Butler Did It” was directed by Mark Hamilton and runs for one more weekend, June 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and June 23 at 2:30 p.m. at MCC Longview Cultural Arts Center, Lees Summit, Missouri. For more information and tickets see the Summit Theatre Group website.
Tags: “The Butler Did It” review, Summit Theatre Group, MCC Longview Cultural Arts Center, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment