Review: Homicide, hilarity and home-cooking at Barnstormer’s ‘Much Ado About Murder’

Much Ado About Murder’ at Barnstormers Theatre features (from left) John Joseph as Larry Durpole/Malcolm Larraby, Alli Mullens as Leslie Larraby and Tara Murdock as Westley Larraby.

By Lisa Panzer

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…”

~ William Shakespeare (AYL 2.7.138–42).

Barnstormers has cooked up a zany evening of entertainment and great food with Pat Cook’s interactive murder mystery “Much Ado About Murder,” directed by L. Jeffrey (Buzz) DiSabatino. Members of the Larraby family, and MacDonald, the handyman, have been invited by rich, reprobate relative Carlton Larraby, to a Shakespearean-themed Halloween Party — only the host has not-so-dearly departed. Some one has ‘offed’ him, and the audience must help determine ‘whodunit’!

Filial affection seems more like filial affliction in this family, so pay heed as kilt adorned M.C. Mr. Hawker (David Palmer), while wielding a huge sword, introduces each wacky character and supplies background information which may yield clues to use for identifying and interviewing the possible killer later in the show. At intermission there is ample opportunity to visit both the snack bar and the crime scene.

The talented acting ensemble, including Ruth Brittain, Danny Dulac, John Joseph, Julie Lacontora, Alli Mullens, Tara Murdock, Gina Olkowski, David Palmer and Anna Rose Smith, appear to be having a great time on stage playing “B” list actors who play wonderfully wacked-out family members, including a handyman and a personal secretary who is in a family way. Extending this playful energy out into the audience for an overall enjoyable experience is key for any audience participation show. Barnstormers combines this with glorious (and a couple hilarious) Shakespearean costumes (Melanie Reynes and cast), thunder and lightning, and other eerie lighting and sound effects (L. Jeffrey (Buzz) DiSabatino, Martin Phillips-English), marvelously macabre props (Brian Miller, Peggy Fullett) and a spooky multi-level set (L. Jeffrey (Buzz) DiSabatino), sporting many a nefarious nook and cranny. Let the fun ensue!

But wait! There’s more… An Italian appetizer/dessert sampler plate, served pre-show, is a ticket option, featuring such sumptuous delights as sausage and peppers, meatballs, chicken cacciatore, rum cake, cannoli filling topped pizzelles and other delights. If you opt out of the sampler, many of these delectables are available a la carte at the snack bar as well.

Barnstormers Theater has set the stage for a thoroughly enjoyable event with B.Y.O.B and intimate cabaret-style seating.

Remaining performances are Feb. 17 and 18 at The Barnstormers Theater, 402 Tome St, Ridley Park, PA 19078. For information call 610-451-9969, or visit barnstormerstheater.com