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The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 Story

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The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 Story

Emily Woodrow

Emily Woodrow

Emily Woodrow

Fun and murder abound in "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940."


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As the title implies, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” presents murder as funny.

This production finds a group of actors, singers, and songwriters as the guests in the Von Grossenkneuten mansion in December of 1940. When the mansion is snowed in, what was supposed to an audition quickly turns into a murder fest for the Stage Door Slasher. While everyone is a suspect, the workings of a Nazi plot might significantly raise the stakes. The production is reminiscent of murder mystery spoof films like “Murder by Death” (1976) or “Clue” (1985).

The large cast of characters is definitely an oddball mixture. To name a few, there is a butler from Brooklyn (Peter Buffie), an airheaded Broadway producer (Haley Jacobsen) who speaks “divoonly,” a shifty Irishman (Joshua R. Johnson), and a psychotic German maid (Callie Frank). Their witty (or idiotic) banter is quite amusing, as are the sexual innuendos spread throughout “Musical Comedy Murders.” However, the physical comedy is what garners the heaviest laughs from the audience.

The play contains slapstick elements classic to the murder mystery spoof genre. One example is when the power goes out. Characters bump into each other awkwardly, and someone is dead when the lights come back on. Another example is the secret passageway. In this play, characters run out from one revolving book case to the next as they try to murder each other.  One character even gets stabbed through a copy of “Moby Dick.”

The fight scenes were also hilarious. There is a moment when the Stage Door Slasher is chasing Eddie McCuen, the comic that thinks he is funny (Tony Falk). Eddie is hiding under the piano and wherever he looks, the Slasher moves to an opposite position so he cannot be seen. Another scene is when the Irishman and the German maid are attacking each other.  She cuts his belt, and his pants drop exposing his boxers. They end up strangling each other on the desk with her legs wrapped around him. Eddie walks in, and thinks they have an aggressive relationship.

“Musical Comedy Murders” is not a musical. Even though it has characters with musical careers and makes music references, it only has one instance of the characters singing a few lyrics for an audition. Nevertheless, the fact that it is not a musical does not deprive the play of any humor or appeal.

“The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” will invoke murderous laughter and leave you befuddled as you try to solve this absurd mystery.

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About the Writer
Daniel O'Brien, A&E Editor

Daniel will graduate with a B.A. in Literature this December.  He has been working with The Spur since Spring 2012.  He is an aspiring author, poet,...

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The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 Story