The Student News Site of Ballard High School



Print Issues 2022-23
Print Issues 2022-23
June 25, 2023
From an everyday necessity, to an emotional sanctuary, to the site of an administrative barrage, Ballards bathrooms are everything.
Absurdity Unveiled
June 23, 2023
Follow Us on Instagram

Fall play executes perfection

Comedy, chemistry, and conflict combined

Michael Cochran, Staff Reporter
Originally published October 23, 2014

Avary Lenz

“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” truly lived up to its title. With heavy accents, rapid fights and numerous plot twists, the small cast conveyed a complex story with ease.

Murder mysteries tend to be a bit sketchy. There’s no telling whether or not the plot will be any good. It could lack mystery and be boring; it could be too mysterious and confusing. In this case, the fall play found a happy medium.

“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” truly lived up to its title. With heavy accents, rapid fights and numerous plot twists, the small cast conveyed a complex story with ease.

The play was originally written by John Bishop and opened on Broadway in 1987. It centers around Elsa Von Grossenknueten (sophomore Madi Lieberman-Koenig), the financier of many popular plays, and her maid Helsa Wenzel (junior Camaira Metz).

Von Grossenknueten gathered a team of actors in her mansion’s library to “try out” for a show. There happened to be a snowstorm that locked them in for the night. As the play progressed, the financier’s ulterior motives were revealed.

Von Grossenknueten gathered a team of actors, directors and playwrights to find out if they were connected to the murder of two girls who were friends with the mansion owner and producer of the play. Their murderer goes by the name of the Stage Door Slasher.

As it turned out, one of the members of the “play” was involved with the murders of Von Grossenknueten’s friends. However, it’s later revealed that two other characters were murderers as well.

Senior Collin Bunch played the role of detective Michael Kelly. Kelly was hired by Von Grossenknueten to help her find the Stage Door Slasher. Bunch and Lieberman-Koenig shared a scene where Kelly stood hidden behind the cast and used hand gestures to communicate to Von Grossenknueten.

Bunch and Lieberman-Koenig’s incredible chemistry created a hilarious scene full of miscommunication.

“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” opened with a figure in all black lurking around the dark stage before the cast members arrived. Even in the dark, the set was piercing. The lighting was fixed to compliment the set, yet simultaneously showed the audience the action. It created an ever-present gloom that brought an ominous feeling to the show and took the story in and out of power outages.

Director of Theater Shawn Riley and the cast of the play worked every day for a month after school to build and design the set. In the end, they composed an interactive library that makes the experience more lively.

The set consisted of moving walls that revealed hidden tunnels under the house, a grand piano and a bar where Bernice Roth (junior Zoe Adamson) spent a lot of time refilling her martini glass. Roth is the play-within-the-play’s songwriter.

The set went down to the last detail, including a chandelier that hung from mid-stage, and walls lined with books, and a vintage, victorian style sofa.

While several of the characters in “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” are old friends, others are meeting for the first time. The cohesive cast did a fine job of portraying all types of relationships including a budding romance between Eddie Mccuen (junior Jasper Coté) and Nikki Crandall (senior Julia Quandt).

Metz had to learn how to speak with a German accent for her part in the show. Having no previous German language experience, this proved to be a difficult feat. Metz worked relentlessly for four weeks on her accent and it wasn’t until the last two that she perfected it.

Despite learning entire new dialects, the cast sounded as though their accents came natural to them. The show included a plot full of twists and turns along with impressive acting that was genuinely fun to watch.

Bringing in a full house for almost every show, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” is just another play to add to the list of successes by the Performing Arts Program.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Talisman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ballard High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Talisman

Comments (0)

All Talisman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Fall play executes perfection