LIMA — The Amil Tellers end their season with a raucous comedy guaranteed to give audiences a hearty belly laugh in the side-splitting comedy, "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940," opening today at Encore Theatre.
Hint: The show is anything but a musical.
“This show is absolutely absurd. It’s silly and funny, just like it’s supposed to be,” said long-time Encore director George Dunster. “This is an evening to have fun and laugh. The characters are serious about themselves, but do ridiculous things."
In fact, it was the hilarity of the show that convinced Dunster it was a winner.
“When I was reading the script, I laughed out loud. I thought to myself if this makes me laugh just sitting here and reading it, imagine the laughs the audience can take from this,” Dunster said.
Same for the cast. It took a few readings of the show, Dunster said, before the cast could keep a straight face as they rehearsed the slapstick murder mystery.
The show is centered around a meeting of the creative team of a Broadway flop at the estate of a wealthy benefactor. As they conduct their business, bodies begin dropping around them. Secret passageways are uncovered, and accusing fingers are pointed towards all of the participants.
Of course, a base in reality is what keeps the play from becoming too silly. “The premise in the show is fact-based,” Dunster said. “There is even a reference to the saboteur spies that were dropped off in Long Island in World War II. Some of our audience might remember that."
“I think, along with the writing of this play and the performance of the actors, one of the things people will really enjoy is the design of the stage. Gene Craft has made for us six bookcases that slide and have secret passageways, and Missy Keller has given the place the look of a large library in a mansion. It really is amazing,” Dunster said, “and it adds to the believability of the show.”