New whodunit debuts at Just Off Broadway Theatre

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By Bob Evans

Jillian Shoptaw & Just Off Broadway Theatre

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New murder thriller by Kansas City’s Denny Dey, “The Ironing Man” opened Friday, June 23 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre and shows promise of developing and going further with a masterful blend of colorful characters, an inspiring plot, and Agatha Christie style surprise elements.

The story revolves around a retirement age detective and a simple ironing man in a high rise apartment building where a murder occurred 20 years prior to their meeting. The detective wants to put aside all the ghosts and cold cases from his and his partner’s careers. He has lots of pieces but the puzzle pieces never fit. He comes to visit with Johnson Lee who is one of the only residents left in the high rise that might shed light on his investigation Then. Their visit helps him string together a possible scenario for the unsolved, cold case.

Denny Dey masterfully constructs a firm framework for the new play. “The Ironing Man” contains all the elements of a good whodunit type story. The only thing that could add to the intrigue would be for the other characters to be tied more to the mystery and to drop some “red herrings” to help involve them more in the overall plot. The characters are strong and well written, giving good breaks in the play as the story unwinds, but an added aire of confusion would help give the audience more to ponder.

To craft this play, director Warren Deckert selected two strong local actors who work together masterfully in character development and execution. Kevin Fewell and Granville O’Neal blend beautifully in the cat and mouse game as the plot unfolds.

Elizabeth A. Hillman, Derek Tautwein, and Emmy Panzica all create good characters and add diversity to the play. The added characters break the action and give the audience different perspectives of Johnson Lee’s work and overall character. Newcomer to theater, Seth Haynes charms the audience as a delivery boy trying to overcome adverse circumstances.

“The Ironing Man” keeps the audience in suspense from start to finish. It’s a good mystery for those who like cop-dramas. The play by Dey is strong, contains great dialogue, good movement, dominant characters, and surprise climax. The show guarantees an evening of entertainment.

Jillian Shoptaw & Just Off Broadway Theatre

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Cast: Granville O’Neal as Johnson Lee, Kevin Fewell as Adler Dolan, Elizabeth A. Hillman as Iris Turner, Seth Haynes as William Cover, Derek Tautwein as Durham Wilde, Emmy Panzica as Marion Logan. The production team is Warren Deckert, director/set design/sound design, Troy Cox, stage manager.

“The Ironing Man” continues at the Just Off Broadway Theatre through July 2. Adult tickets are $25; seniors/students are $20. Group rates available. For tickets and dates check The Melting Pot website.

Tags: Mystery, Just Off Broadway, “The Ironing Man”, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment

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