By Emily Sorensen
Whodunnit? PowPAC, Poway’s Community Theatre, is celebrating the holiday season with Ken Ludwig’s farcical murder mystery, “The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays,” opening Friday, Nov. 15 and running through Sunday, Dec. 15 at 13250 Poway Road.
“It’s a mystery-comedy-thriller-farce,” said producer Mary Anderson. “It has all of [Ludwig’s] fast-paced farce, physical comedy and disappearing bodies. It’s a mixture of funny and thriller, though comedy is the dominant element.”
The show is being directed by Keith A. Anderson, and produced by his wife, Mary Anderson, and Dorothy Courtney.
“The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays” stars real-life stage actor William Gillette, who became famous for playing Sherlock Holmes. Gillette travels home for Christmas with his acting troupe, until the holiday visit turns into a real-life murder mystery, and Gillette must draw on Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery.
Ludwig was inspired to write a murder mystery after seeing Agatha Christie’s “The Mouse Trap,” said Anderson. “[The Game’s Afoot] is an homage to Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” said Anderson. “There’s lots of references to Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie plays.”
Set in 1936, the show takes place in Gillette’s Connecticut home, which is decorated for Christmas. Though the real-life Gillette’s house was based on a medieval castle, the play takes liberties to have the house decorated in an Art Deco style instead. “[The house] is filled with props from his plays, including weapons on display, some of which actually work,” said Anderson.
The cast features Pete Shaner as William Gillette, Mary Ann Van Sickle as Martha Gillette, Frank Godinez as Felix Geisel, Pati Reynolds as Madge Geisel, Nathan Boyer as Simon Bright, Kirsten Neiman as Aggie Wheeler, Marie Shelton as Inspector Goring and Victoria Mature as Daria Chase.
The cast is a mix of PowPAC veterans and those new to the PowPAC stage, though not to stages in general. “Pete [Shaner] and Victoria [Mature] bring a lot of experience to the cast,” said Anderson.
Just because the show is a comedy, don’t expect it to slack on the murder mystery aspects. “The audience won’t know for sure who the killer is until the very last line of the play,” said Anderson. “There’s lots of twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes.”
Despite the thrills, Anderson says the show is appropriate for children. “It’s extremely family-friendly,” said Anderson. “Everyone of all ages will enjoy it. Younger kids will enjoy the physical comedy, while the older audience will enjoy the references and nuances.”
Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets for “The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays” are $18 general admission, $15 students, seniors and active duty military. military. There is a $2 surcharge for opening night, which includes a post-performance reception with the cast.
For tickets, call 858-679-8085, email
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