Something’s up at the Stoneham Theatre. It’s the “delicious…capricious… suspicious” murder mystery musical, SOMETHING’S AFOOT (playing through March 23rd). The creators (James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach with additional music from Ed Linderman) manage to spoof two genres with one fell swoop: They send up traditional musical theater while they “steal” every juicy character Agatha Christie ever invented.
SOMETHING’S AFOOT is loosely based on AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, with snatches of movie perils tucked in: The bridge is out. The generator is blown. Poison has been planted. A will is missing. An inheritance is at stake. You name the cliché and you’ll find it lurking in plain sight! As Miss Tweed (the sensational Margaret Ann Brady) ever so efficiently recounts her favorite motives, there’s always “revenge, passion, lust and greed.”
The tongue-in-cheek songs are delightfully awful or are they awfully delightful? Both. You’ll hear clever musical references and Ceit Zweil’s spot on choreography matches their intent to the letter (or note, as the case may be). The overblown dancing is, in fact, a joy.
Director Caitlin Lowans’ cast of misfit suspects had me giggling non-stop: Brady, as the no nonsense Miss Marplesque cheerleader (“Remember, We’re British: Stiff upper lip!”) gamely dispatches the corpses without so much as a “by your leave.” Off stage they go. Then there’s the cheeky caretaker (John Davin in top form pinching all the ladies), Nick Sulfaro as the hapless butler, Russell Garrett as the dashing doctor, Mark Linehan as the devious nephew (whose tango with himself, one leg involved in another dance altogether, is a sight to behold) and J.T. Turner as the blustery colonel.
Kathy St. George may not be who she says she is and Andrew Oberstein may or may not be a student. He and Stephanie Granade may or may not be meant for each other but they’re certainly charming together. Zweil as the not so loyal maid and Davin have a hilarious escape number together, turning the corniest of vaudeville songs into gold. No one is safe: Even the pianist (Bethany Aiken) is at risk in Stoneham’s comic triumph. Don’t miss it.