Not your typical murder mystery
Seton Hall’s Theatre Council will present its first summer production, “Mystery Play,” between July 9 and 18 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Theatre-in-the-Round.
After two years without a summer performance, the Theatre Council approved “Mystery Play,” by Jean-Claude Van Itallie. The cast and crew are made up of both current students and graduate of Seton Hall. The director is alumnus Angelo De Fazio, of the class of 2008.
“A summer production by Theatre Council will hopefully become a yearly tradition at SHU,” De Fazio said. “It is a great way to involve alumni and students while promoting the arts on campus and in the surrounding communities.”
“Mystery Play” is a murder mystery set at a cocktail party. De Fazio calls the play a spoof of a typical murder mystery.
“The play is interesting, to say the least,” said De Fazio. “We see a Mystery Writer controlling the action of the show, as each character eventually has his or her own ‘monologue,’ addressing both the actors and the audience in a not necessarily sensible, yet sometimes comedic, manner. Eventually, we encounter the expected murder mystery deaths, and in a roundabout way, the Mystery Writer explains the happenings to the audience and actors alike.”
“It is supposed to be a satire of the Agatha Christie murder mysteries, but it also mixes in some political satire, and whatever (drugs) the playwright was doing when he wrote it,” explained Alexis Steponanko, graduate of the class of 2009. Steponanko stressed the impact the play has on the audience, noting that “by the last lines of the show, you might re-think your whole life. After we did the first run-through, I felt the same way I did when I first saw ‘The Usual Suspects.’ My mind was just blown.”
The play includes many unusual characters as well. Michelle Stern, another member of the class of 2009, plays the Mystery Writer, Miss Prine, who manipulates all of the characters in the play to fit into her “mystery” model.
Steponanko described her character, Laura Northcoast, as “a wildly famous actress in her own mind. She is engaged to the Senator’s son Edward, but may also be the Senator’s mistress.” In short, “she is vain, base, and irritating,” Steponanko said.
De Fazio noted the impact the play has on alumni relations with current students, remarking that “alumni are important to the organization, as their tenure at Seton Hall is what has made Theatre Council grow into what it is today: a successful and quality theater organization that promotes and produces the arts!”
Stern said that the students and alumni enjoyed their experience working together.
“As an alumni working with current students and other alumni, I thought the experience was great,” she said. “I was able to perform with people that I would normally never have the chance to perform with again. It was great seeing my friends again.”
Steponanko also had a good experience working with the mix of other graduates and current students.
“With the exception of three cast members, I have worked with everyone else in the show before,” she said. “Most of them are my closest friends. Working with new people has also been awesome. Being out of school for a little over a year, it is really great getting back into acting in Seton Hall shows, especially with people I have worked with before. Since we all know each other, we understand how we all work and have so much fun. We certainly don’t have drab rehearsals.”
Tickets will be available for these performances at the door, and are $8 for general admission, and $5 for seniors and the Seton Hall community.