BH Fine Arts department to host 19th annual Fall Dinner Theatre murder/mystery production

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The Brook Hill Upper School’s Fine Arts Department is preparing to welcome patrons for their upcoming 19th annual Fall Dinner Theatre production performances.

“Being our 19th annual event, we are very excited for this year’s performance,” said Glenn Ballard, Brook Hill Fine Arts director. “We have built a reputation over the years of providing an excellent dinner and theatrical show in a great environment.”

This year’s Fall Dinner Theatre play will be a comedy murder-mystery, entitled Three Murders and It’s Only Monday, written by East Texas native Pat Cook.

“Pat Cook is from Frankston, and we’ve done four or five of his plays over the years,” said Ballard. “We have a young strong cast in our performance this year. I’m very blessed to have several sophomore actors step up for their first significant role and first Dinner Theatre production. I’ve been very impressed by them and their abilities.”

According to information provided by Ballard, the story features that master sleuth, Private Eye Harry Monday, who gets called in to solve three murders at the Peaceful Pines Sanitarium.

“This is one in a series of plays written by Pat Cook involving Harry Monday,” said Ballard. “He’s a private detective in the style sort of like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. In the first 90 seconds of the play, there are three murders committed at the sanitarium, and he’s called in to solve the murders.”

Assuming the lead role as Monday will be junior Justin Powell, appearing in his fourth dinner theatre show production.

“When we casted roles for the play, it was pretty obvious that Justin was the only actor here that had the experience to tackle this role,” said Ballard. “For the first several weeks of rehearsal, we struggled to find his character because the 1940s brand of detectives was unfamiliar to Justin; he didn’t have a point of reference for this character. After several rehearsals in preparation for the show, I recently shook Justin’s hand and told him he has found the character of Harry Monday.”

The cast for Three Murders and It’s Only Monday also features senior Elaina Yeager in her fourth dinner theatre production and junior James Shipp in his second show.

“Elaina is a senior and one of the more experienced actors in our program,” said Ballard. “She’s playing one role, but two personalities because she’s undercover; she’s Tara Dillaise, an undercover district attorney who appears on stage first in the flavor of Jessica Rabbit from the 1980s classic, ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ with a flirtatious, provocative style, then she has to change into a hard-nosed district attorney. Likewise, James Shipp has a similar situation, beginning the play undercover as Dr. Vernon Morrissey. We find out later he’s been replaced at the scene of the crime.”

Although the play can seem confusing to some throughout the performance, Ballard said the confusion is perfectly normal.

“You have to play very close attention to the play as its going on,” said Ballard. “in fact, there’s a line in the play from harry Monday that says ‘if you’re not confused, you haven’t been paying attention.’ In this style, there are a lot of twists and turns, and there are also a lot of quick one-liners and jokes. You have to stay on top of it, or the jokes will fly over your head.”

The stunning menu for the event will be prepared by Susan Gardner, whom Ballard considers as a “culinary queen,” consisting of a fresh green salad with a special dressing, artisan bread, half of a grilled Cornish game hen on wild rice with grilled vegetables, as well as a pomegranate or white chocolate blueberry cheesecake.

The 19th annual Brook Hill Fine Arts Fall Dinner Theatre production will run Thursday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 4, with dinner at 6 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. curtain. The final performance of the show will be Sunday, Nov. 5 with a 6 p.m. curtain and 5 p.m. dinner beforehand.

For more information about the Brook Hill Fall Dinner Theatre performances, contact Ballard at gballard@brookhill.org or (903) 312-0371. Tickets, ranging from $20-$40, can be purchased for the production through the ‘tickets’ tab at www.bhsofa.org.

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