For the past few months, Barbara Everest has spent her free time in a room full of murder suspects. And she has loved every minute of it.
Stage West Community Playhouse's production of A Shot in The Dark begins this week and will mark Everest's second time as a director. Last year, she debuted with the English comedy Absurd Person Singular.
A Shot in The Dark, a Harry Kurnitz adaptation of a Marcel Archard play, is what Everest calls a mystery drama. A killing at the beginning of the show provides the catalyst for a show full of whodunit.
Stage West veterans John Masterson and M.J. Rice play the garrulous Monsieur Beaurevers and his aristocratic wife, Dominique.
"They really are the lord and lady of the house," Everest said. "But that doesn't preclude them from being suspects. They are."
Josefa, played by Sharon Farnsworth, is the Beaureverses' guileless maid who is taken before the magistrate and charged with murder after she is found unconscious, nude and clutching a gun with her dead lover beside her.
"The maid is really one of the key suspects," Everest said noncommittally. "But this show does have its surprises."
The cast rounds out with Jon Puzio, who plays the magistrate, Jason Dottley as his clerk, Danielle Morgern as his wife, Gary Coole as the prosecutor and Paul Schlobohm as the guard.
Even with such a small cast, Everest said, the show is a challenge because all the action takes place in the magistrate's office.
"Believable movement is the key," said the seven-year Stage West member. "The movement has to emphasize points in the plot."
Everest, whose stage experience mostly has been in musicals, said it has been a challenge to apply her knowledge to a play.
"I don't quite know how I wound up doing this," she said with a laugh.
Because of her background, Everest said, she likes to employ music in all her shows because it is an effective technique to establish mood.
"Even if the music is only incidental, it has an effect on the audience," she said. "Those subtleties matter a great deal."
Everest said it has been invaluable to cut her teeth on straight plays because the casts are small, but she would like to eventually direct a musical.
"It's very exciting to be responsible for everything," she said. "Especially with such a wonderful organization as this."