Vienna Theatre Company Presents:

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

by John Bishop

Directed by Barbara Carpenter
Produced by Richard Durkin

Performance Dates:  April 17 – May 3
Audition Dates are: 

February 10th and 11th – 7:30, February 13th – Callbacks – 7:30 – by invitation.

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script and will be held at the Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry St., SE, Vienna, VA

**Despite the title, there will not be singing auditions**

Click here to download an audition form

Show Synopsis:

The creative team responsible for a recent Broadway flop (in which three chorus girls were murdered by the mysterious “Stage Door Slasher”) assemble for a backer’s audition of their new show at the Westchester estate of a wealthy “angel.” The house is replete with sliding panels, secret passageways and a German maid who is apparently four different people—all of which figure diabolically in the comic mayhem which follows when the infamous “Slasher” makes his reappearance and strikes again—and again. As the composer, lyricist, actors and director prepare their performance, and a blizzard cuts off any possible retreat, bodies start to drop in plain sight, knives spring out of nowhere, masked figures drag their victims behind swiveling bookcases, and accusing fingers point in all directions. However, and with no thanks to the bumbling police inspector who snowshoes in to investigate, the mystery is solved in the nick of time and the “Slasher” unmasked—but not before the audience has been treated to a sidesplitting good time and a generous serving of the author’s biting, satiric and refreshingly irreverent wit.

Character Descriptions:

Helsa Wenzel (40+)

Helsa is the maid of the Grossenknueten estate. She is killed in the first scene of the play, only to be impersonated by her homicidal twin brother, Dieter. The actress who plays Helsa also appears at the end of the play as “Katrina, the cook from Koblenz.” German accent.

Elsa Von Grossenknueten (50+)

Elsa is the eccentric owner of the mansion and is the financial backer of many musicals. Elsa summons the group together in an attempt to find out who murdered her “friend” Bebe McAllister. She is extremely eccentric, and thinks that the idea of chasing after a killer is great fun. Her grandfather was a spy, and she claims that espionage runs in her blood.

Michael Kelly (40+)

Kelly is an undercover cop. Elsa appeals to him to help solve the mystery of the Stage Door Slasher, and Kelly at first pretends to be her butler. Kelly’s tough, no-nonsense attitude puts him at odds with Elsa and the dramatic types that visit. He eventually reveals his identity as a New York police officer, much to Elsa’s dismay.

Patrick O’Reilly (35+)

O’Reilly claims to be an Irish tenor, but he is very suspicious, especially with regard to the mysterious Helsa. The two engage in a physical brawl. Eventually, O’Reilly claims to be “Tony Garibaldi”, an undercover cop with a Bronx accent-only to reveal himself as a Gestapo Agent named Klaus Stansdorff, sent to find German defectors. Irish, NY and German accents.

Ken De La Maize (35+)

Ken is a “typical” director, speaking of theater as a “pure art.” He also has an annoying habit of name-dropping, constantly citing the various celebrities he has worked with over the years. Everyone always claims to have seen the films he makes, only for him to reveal that they have not yet been released.

Nikki Crandall (20-35)

Nikki is considered a typical chorus girl-but she is eventually revealed to be Ensign Nicole Crandall, of United States Naval Intelligence. Her secret mission was to find the Germans who were sent over to sabotage the American war efforts. She is also interested in solving the mystery of the Stage Door Slasher, and helps to break the code in Bebe’s notebook.

Eddie McCuen (25-35)

Eddie is the out-of-work comedian that ties the different story lines together, and goes from being cowardly at the beginning of the play to heroic at the end. He is attracted to Nikki, but fumbles when he tries to talk to her. He was a replacement for an actor, and thus has no connection to Manhattan Holiday. He is the one who realizes the connection between the Slasher case and the party.

Marjorie Baverstock (40+)

Marjorie is a Broadway producer. She constantly flatters everyone around her, and speaks in elevated language; her “new word” is “divoon.” She is accidentally killed by Dieter at the end of the first act; strangely, no one seems to notice, despite the fact that there is an enormous sword through her back. Eddie, Ken and Kelly bury her dead body in a snowdrift in the beginning of the second act.

Roger Hopewell (40+)

Roger is the composer for “White House Merry-Go-Round”, and Bernice’s partner; the two have had a string of Broadway hits. Roger enjoys teasing Ken about his artistic ways, and makes snide remarks throughout the play, but flares up whenever someone insults his musical style. He also knows how to deal with Bernice’s many quirks.

Bernice Roth (40+)

The perpetually thirsty lyricist, she is Roger’s partner. Bernice is very odd and emotional, frequently losing her composure and screaming. When Marjorie fails to respond to the second act opening number of “White House Merry-Go-Round”, Bernice is hugely offended, despite the fact that Marjorie was dead at the time. She spends the entire second act attempting to “fix” the play, even when she is held hostage.

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