Rerun

From left, Don Faust, Stacy Herrick, Jackie Patterson and Sondra Karben use a Ouija board to find out who killed Herrick's character in Richmond Hill's "Murder on the Rerun."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Fred Carmichael's "Murder on the Rerun" seems to revisit several of Richmond Hill Players' favorite themes.

There's the whodunit, a favorite of not only Richmond Hill but many community theater groups.

It has behind-the-scenes showbiz aspects of Broadway or Hollywood (in this case, Hollywood), which the group tends to gravitate toward when selecting its productions.

And, at least reviving the idea from its previous "Down to Earth," a major plot point is a supposedly invisible angel trying to earn his or her wings.

The combination results in one of Carmichael's messier scripts, whose saving grace is the enthusiasm and near-campy performances by a seven-member cast, directed by Eugenia Giebel.

In a Vermont ski lodge, we see screenwriter Jane (Stacy Herrick) tumble down a flight of stairs to her death — but did she fall or was she pushed? If it's the latter, who pushed?

Jane returns three years later in a special dispensation from above and accompanied by an wannabe angel (Sara Laufer) to sort out the crime from the array of potential suspects: her actor husband (Archie Williams), an ingenue (Elizabeth Buzard), a leading lady (Sondra Karben), a director (Don Faust) and a gossip columnist (Jackie Patterson).

Laufer has had a multitude of small, supporting roles in area companies through the years, and is at her best here, as the carefree, giddy Kitty. But the script gives her an ability that's worrisome. She has the "power" to bring all of the characters into the scene, while they never question why they're there, only sometimes realize they're surrounded by an audience and only occasionally acknowledge that Kitty's there.

Likewise shining is Herrick, supposedly invisible and having more humanity than any of the other characters, despite three years off the mortal coil.

Otherwise, Patterson is delicious as the gossip columnist (wearing the best get-ups of the cast), Karben is bubbly as the older actress, Buzard (despite a rather hideous wig) is appropriately whiny as the younger actress, Faust is his usual solid self as the director and Williams gets to ham it up as the leading man.

Giebel and the cast try to update the 30-year-old script to present day, and is successful until they can't find references to replace Jimmy Hoffa and Idi Amin. Giebel's direction is swift and breezy, and the jumps in time are nicely handled thanks to lighting by technical director Jennifer Kingry on the barn theater's new light grid.

Overall, "Murder on the Rerun" avoids being a rehash of some old cliches and makes for an enjoyable time.

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