Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Preview: ‘Something’s Afoot,’ a musical murder mystery


Something's Afoot
Lady Grace Manly Powe, played by sophomore Aubrey Waddick, stares off into the distance in the spring musical ‘Something’s Afoot,’ opening Friday.
Photo by Cam Best.

Augustana’s spring musical “Something’s Afoot,” combines comedy with mystery to parody the 1930s detective genre made famous by Agatha Christie.
“Something’s Afoot,” opening Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Potter Hall, follows the story of 10 stranded people who are killed off one by one. The group attempts to identify the murderer, who is assumingly stuck in the English country house with them.
Additional performances are on Saturday as well as on May 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday and May 11 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students.
“(The musical) features English-music-hall-style songs and lots of ingenious deaths,” Director Jeff Coussens said.  “The plot of the play is loosely based on one of Agatha Christie’s most famous books, ‘And Then There Were None’ (also known as ‘Ten Little Indians’). In the well-known story, several guests are invited to the home of a wealthy Englishman, and one by one they are mysteriously killed by some very ingenious methods.”
Music director John Pfautz said the musical aspect in the play is reminiscent of the style traditionally found in English musical halls, and also adds to the satirical aspect of the story.
“The story is not very deep and the music isn’t very sophisticated, either,” Pfautz said. “There will be a large contrast of styles to highlight the humor and help the characters come across as overdone.”
Pfautz said there will be a combination of musical numbers, including slow ballads, upbeat songs, hat-and-cane tap dances and solos. A small band featuring drums, bass and keyboard will accompany the performances.
In addition to performing exaggerated musical numbers, actors face a challenge in portraying their satirical characters, said Coussens.
“For the actors the challenge has been to create the stereotypical stock characters that we have come to know from Agatha Christie’s work, and to cultivate the right tongue-in-cheek performance style demanded by the script,” Coussens said.
Actors in the play include Luke Currie as Clive the butler, Sarah Baxter as Lettie the saucy maid, Jacob Kilburg as Flint the lust-filled caretaker, Ellenelle Gilliam as Hope the ingenue, Elyssa LeMay as Miss Tweed the amateur sleuth, John D’Aversa as Colonel Gillweather the old army man, Steven Mondlach as Geoffrey the young college student, Aubrey Waddick as Lady Grace Manly-Prowe, Dr. Grayburn the family doctor and Jacob Weidner as Nigel the dissolute nephew.
There will be a special cameo appearance of local celebrity Don Wooten as Lord Dudley Rancour.
“The audience can expect a very fun and entertaining production,” Pfautz said. “The technical aspects, set design and special effects also enhance the production. It has been a big collaborative effort, and I encourage everyone to go.”

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Preview: ‘Something’s Afoot,’ a musical murder mystery