Artists in Action: Stedham’s back with more murder mystery dinner theater
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Aug 03, 2012 | 4526 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A parade of colorful, energetic and smart-thinking characters always walk the stage in Mike Stedham’s mystery plays. But don’t get too attracted to them, for you never know which ones you can trust. Deception becomes a way of life in the playwright’s plots, and “Murder on the Set,” Stedham’s dinner theater play at Garfrerick’s Café Aug. 17 and 18, is no exception. There’s been a sudden death on an afternoon TV show and everyone’s a suspect. The host, Flora Flannigan, has been killed. It’s a challenging puzzle to solve, for nobody associated with Flo really liked her. They were just pretending.

According to Pati Tiller, who portrays Flora, the character is motivated by the cut-throat realities of show business. Ratings must be high to insure job security. Even though she has been savvy enough to secure herself in an ironclad contract, her life lacks peace because of her desire to succeed at all costs. Flo has little interest in the “little” people around her now.

“She lives and breathes for her show,” Tiller explains, “and all of this has made her a bit jaded and insensitive.”

All of the people on her staff have insensitive natures, for that matter. Due to their situation, they’re driven by desperation and greed.

Gretchen, the executive producer of the show, is played by Linda Lee. Her job is in jeopardy, Lee explains, because of the program’s low ratings. Gretchen wants to get rid of Flora’s time on the air so she can replace it with one that will boost popularity. This way, Gretchen will look good in the networks officials’ eyes. Sherry Applegate and Maggie Southers, played by Robin Bauer and Donna Ross respectively, want more power in their jobs on Flo’s show. Jane, (Laura Nell Rigsby) an actress and rival TV host, wants to replace Flo on the afternoon show, while Charlie, the stage manager (Dylan Hurst) pockets some of Flo’s jewelry when nobody’s in the dressing room. He’s afraid she’ll find out.

Despite this dark setting, “Murder on the Set” is a comedy as well as a mystery. “I love to make people laugh,” Stedham commented. But he advises all to pay close attention to what’s happening, because every table will get its chance to buy clues and try to identify the murderer — for a prize. At the end of the show, everyone’s a sleuth.

The play will be at 6:30 both evenings. The tickets are $30 per person. For reservations, call Garfrerick’s at 256 831-0044 by Aug. 16.

Concert of American music in Wedowee

Wedowee residents look forward to Mary Ann Lanier’s visits back home, because when she comes, she brings her vocal talents. On Friday, Aug. 10 and Sunday, Aug. 12, soprano Mary Ann Lanier and pianist Robert Humphreville will offer two concerts in First United Methodist Church of Wedowee’s fellowship hall. The Friday performance, at 7 p.m., is a musical theater line-up called “Lullaby of Broadway: Songs of Harry Warren” (Warren was one of America’s most prolific film composers). The Sunday performance, at 2 p.m., is titled “Deep River.” It features favorite spirituals and other religious songs.

A reception follows the Friday show. Tickets are $15 per person. For more information, call Sidney or Jo Ann Lanier at 256-357-2361. The Sunday performance is free of charge.

The church is located at 116 Broad St. in Wedowee. The Lanier and Humphreville Concert is presented by East Alabama Arts Society of Randolph County.

This makes the 16th time the duo has performed in Wedowee, said Sidney Lanier, Mary Ann’s father. “The artists provide a good time for everyone because we’re bringing the kind of entertainment that you can’t get on a daily basis,” he said. “The songs are familiar to most of us. The younger audience will hear songs that were important in musical history.” Several of the selections go back to World War II and before, he said. Mary Ann, now of Boston, has made American music and film her specialty, he added. Humpreville, a native of New London, Conn., is a freelance performer of classical and popular musician in greater Boston and a composer and teacher.
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