Theatre Review: “Golden Girls” have Murder In Mind

January 11, 2010


So . . . four “Golden Girls” meet Adrian Monk and Jessica Fletcher in an Agatha Christie-type “cozy” that’s been updated to 2010. What is this strange collection of characters and capers? A fractured fairy tale of TV archetypes for sure, and one that audiences can’t help but enjoy.

Billed as “interactive murder mystery dinner theatre,” Golden Girls: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher is the latest creative turn from Murder In Mind Productions, now in its seventh season entertaining the Central Coast. Producers Judie and Ron Kewish clearly know how to make treats like this tasty for actors as well as audience members. Starting with a witty script by John Logue, they have built a show that lets imaginative cast members ad lib to best effect while still covering the plot points necessary for such parodies to prevail.

Clever lines abound, such as one character speculating about another character’s “ability to recover from a fatal gunshot wound,” but lines like these would be lost if not delivered just right and with audience reaction top of mind.

Indeed, interplay – not just interaction – with the audience is what sets these actors apart from less resourceful players. From the opening bars of “Thank You for Being a Friend” (let’s all sing along now!) to the where-did-those-lyrics-come-from singalong that closes the show, each member of this troupe knows how to work a room as well as work together to produce top-notch fun.

Deborah Sykes as Dorothy channels the late Bea Arthur to Golden Girls perfection. This may be her first appearance with Murder in Mind Productions, but it really shouldn’t be her last.

Displaying just the right amount of southern sashay, Judie Kewish as Blanche lets her roving hands and shoulder rolls express even more than her lips, especially when it comes to the only male member of the cast – and, of course, absolutely every male member of the audience!

Joyce Anderson as Rose and Jeanie Raysses as Sophia deliver hands-down the best lines of the evening – whether scripted or off the cuff.

Although the show is not a musical, the audience interplay and the final singalong allow cast members – especially Anderson, Sykes and Kewish – to display admirable lyrical talents. Denise Womack and Ron Kewish round out the cast as Jessica Fletcher and Adrian Monk.

The less said the better about who gets killed, who suspects whom, and why (it’s a mystery, after all!). Fans of board games such as “Clue” and TV shows such as “Columbo” will be thrilled to know that a reward awaits them if they out-guess the experts and solve the crime. Everyone else can enjoy the shared rewards of a delightful evening: a truly tasty three-course meal from Spyglass Inn Restaurant in Shell Beach, an opportunity to enjoy friends old and new, and a clever, “cozy” entertainment that keeps a smile on your face for hours after the show.

In the “Behind the Scenes” department, soundman Myron Bowman deserves a round of applause for cueing the oh-so-very-melodramatic music timed perfectly to the plot machinations of Golden Girls: The Curse of Jessica Fletcher.

There’s still time to catch the show, which runs through Jan. 31. Visit the CalCoastNews Community Event Calendar for details.