NEW PORT RICHEY — Someone in the upcoming comedy at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre's Murder at the Howard Johnson's is indeed going to be eliminated, but who it will be and how it comes about remains a mystery until the very last moment.
"You'll laugh every minute of this screwball comedy as the tangled triangle careens on its roller-coaster plot," Ferraro said of the show that starts next Friday.
The problem is a love triangle: the slightly ditzy Arlene (Mary Kay Cyrus); her adoring husband, Paul (Marc S. Sanders), and Arlene's ardent admirer (well, he ardently admires a lot of women); and the family dentist, Mitchell (Eric Misener). All three players are seasoned actors but are making their Studio Theatre debuts.
Arlene admits her hubby is thoughtful, loving and sweet. But Mitchell has almost convinced her that he is even more thoughtful, loving and sweet — and that Arlene should divorce her husband and run off with him. Better yet, why not just get rid of good old Paul once and for all and not bother with the unpleasantries of divorce? It all seems so easy and simple, Arlene admits, so why not?
That's when good old Paul shows up, and, suddenly, matters of the heart don't seem so clear to Arlene. So, what to do then?
That's the dilemma, as loyalties change, plans get twisted around and sworn enemies somehow become best buddies.
Murder is by playwrights Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick, who have written scores of plays, both separately and together. Murder at the Howard Johnson's has proven to be one of their most popular since its arrival in 1979. Indeed, love triangles are timeless, as are jealousies and, yes, murder.
Clark may be best known for the monologues he wrote for Alan King, Henny Youngman, Jack Carter and other comics of that era, as well as his scripts for The Jackie Gleason Show. Bobrick is a prolific playwright who wrote Hamlet II (Better than the Original) — without getting permission from the writer of the original, of course.
Variety wrote that Murder has "… enough laugh lines, mirth-provoking situations and extravagant sight gags to outfit two rapid-fire farces of the absurd."
Patrons of area theaters may recognize Cyrus from her performances at St. Pete City Theatre (The Dixie Swim Club) and West Coast Players (The Sisters Rosensweig) and her stint as artistic director for Venue Ensemble Theatre from 2008 to 2012. Sanders has performed in Tampa Bay area theaters for almost 25 years, playing Oscar in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, George in Simon's Chapter Two and another George in Bernard Slade's stage and screen favorite Same Time, Next Year. Misener has been on area stages since 2000, appearing in such shows as the cynical drama Glengarry Glen Ross, Murder in Green Meadows and The Rainmaker.
Murder is written in three acts but is being performed in two acts, with a 15-minute intermission.