Waterworks presents spirited, compelling play

Published 11:50 am Thursday, October 22, 2015

By Wade Edwards

“Rehearsal for Murder,” an inventive, droll whodunit presented by the Waterworks Players, will continue in Farmville on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Waterworks Theatre.  First produced as a 1982 CBS movie starring Robert Preston and Lynn Redgrave, the production is based on the teleplay by Richard Levinson and William Link. Helmed by seasoned off-Broadway director Chris Klinger, the show features witty repartee and a sexy 70s-style vibe, as well as an intrepid mix of veteran actors and energetic newcomers.

Email newsletter signup

Mark Limvere-Robinson summaries the story at imdb.com: “A noted playwright (played by the dexterous Greg Tsigaridas) is devastated by the apparent suicide of his fiancée, a famous film actress (Sherri Davenport), after her Broadway début in one of his plays.  On the first year anniversary of her death, he arranges a reunion of cast and crew from that fateful opening night.  He asks them to read for parts in his new play, but in reality he believes that his fiancée was murdered, and that someone at the rehearsal is the killer.”

Tsigaridas, mixing moments of affection and tenderness with flashes of anger and paranoia, portrays the lovesick lead character with dogged pluck. Leigh Lunsford shines as well-heeled producer Bella Lamb, a role that takes full advantage of her darling obstreperousness.  And Longwood University student Brittni Cogdell is mesmeric as Karen Daniels, an exasperated and underutilized stage actress with dreams of making it big.

With a minimalistic set design, audiences will be charmed by several careful details in this production. Scott Chapman and Mary Jo Stockton’s well-deployed sound and lighting effects help frame a series of inventive flashback scenes and fantasy sequences.  Charming costuming — designed by Linda Rofe, Beatrice Oyler, and Maureen Harris — effectively embraces all the sartorial calamity of the 1970s, from corduroy blazers and plaid jackets to cheesy mustaches and gigantic spread collars.

Rehearsal for Murder is a classic murder mystery perfect for the intimate, 116-seat Waterworks Theatre. Showtime is 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets, which are $10, may be purchased online at waterworksplayers.org.