Here are three words you don’t often see together: “murder,” “mystery” and “musical.” And yet, that is the basis for Taproot Threatre Company’s current production of Something’s Afoot running now through August 13.
Written in 1972, the book, music and lyrics of Something’s Afoot was a collaborative effort between James McDonald, David VOS and Robert Gerlach. It is basically a spoof loosely based on Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians” (or “And Then There Were None”) in which the victims are knocked off one by one. With larger-than-life characters including a saucy maid, a snobby butler, a forgetful caretaker, a spoiled nephew, a doctor, a war veteran, a bright-eyed innocent, and an elderly woman fascinated with detective stories, the play resembles a Clue game come to life.
The play begins at the lakeside estate of wealthy Lord Rancour who has invited a group of people, who do not know each other, to his home for the weekend. When he is found dead, the race to find out “whodunit” begins and everybody is a suspect. To make matters worse, there is a storm outside, the phones are dead and the bridge is closed leaving all to fend for themselves in the old house. On the inside, the house is filled with booby traps and suspicions.
Once again, Taproot offers up top-notch acting and a band of four musicians, which sound like a lot more. The cast of Something’s Afoot work together seamlessly as an ensemble. Regular patrons of Taproot will recognize actors from previous productions including Dale Bowers, Gerald B. Browning, Ryan Childers, Jenny Cross, and Pat Sibey. With that said, the biggest stand out in this production is that of Lettie the maid played by Deanna Sarkar, making her Taproot debut. She has a beautiful voice and great comic timing. We can only hope that we will be seeing more of this engaging actress.
Directed by Scott Nolte and choreographed by Christy McNeil, the character romp about the theatre-in-the-round without a hitch or trip unless one was planned for in the script, which is quite a task given the amount of furniture and booby traps planted on the stage.
The whole production is reminiscent of an old episode of The Carol Burnett Variety TV Show, where the whole cast does a spoof of a movie with Broadway tunes. Unfortunately, this is where the show lacks perfection. The songs are forgetful and given that the characters sing in their character’s dialects, make some of them unpleasant to listen to. But the musicians do a fantastic job keeping up with the antics on stage. Perhaps a generational thing, the older patrons seemed to enjoy the musical numbers more than the younger ones and the production I attended.
Those who are sensitive to the idea of murder or wish for a greater meaning, maybe put off by the idea of this production, but the play is very light-hearted and should not be taken seriously. For those who love mysteries, comedy and musical theatre, will enjoy playing armchair detectives.
Something’s Afoot is presented Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and matinees are presented on Saturdays as well at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 206-781-9708, online or in person at the box office. Students age 25 and under can get in for $10 and seniors receive a $3 discount. The box office and theatre are both located at 204 North 85th Street in Seattle 98103.