OGDEN — Weber State University’s Department of Performing Arts welcomes back patrons with a great suspenseful murder mystery, Something’s Afoot. This is the first show performed in the building with a live audience in a year and a half. We have been eagerly awaiting another great show from the students of Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities and they delivered a smashing good hit in more ways than one.
Directed by Andrew Barratt Lewis, Something’s Afoot is a clever murder mystery and a musical that pokes fun at both genres, especially Agatha Christie mysteries. Book, music, and lyrics were written by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach, with additional music by Ed Linderman. First produced in 1972, this musical still is very enjoyable and novel, as it is not seen very often in Utah. Set in an old English Manor on a lonely island on a dark and stormy weekend, six guests show up for an exciting weekend in the countryside with three begrudging staff members and one unexpected visitor. It is not long before the first murder is discovered, and soon another murder occurs. One by one, these ten characters are killed off and piled up in the library leaving the audience wondering whodunit, how, and who is next go.
The star of the show truly is Jaycee Harris as Miss Tweed. Her wit and sleuthing are captivating and her British accent is believable as she struts about as confident as the queen herself. It is refreshing to have a female detective leading the way, foretelling doom to the claps of thunder, and dancing in mysterious swirling circles of light. Harris is truly in her element. The naive Hope Langdon (played by Abigail Ford), has great personality and comical surprised faces when tragic events occur. She falls for the young rowing coxswain, Geoffrey (played by Spencer Sanders.) His charm and finesse are evident in his smile and dancing. Ford and Sanders have wonderful dance numbers that are well choreographed and executed, especially “I Don’t Know Why I Trust You But I Do.” Choreographer Christian David Clarke created many fun dances throughout the show including “I Owe It All” and “Suspicious.”
Emiline Mackey plays the not-so-rich grand dame Lady Grace Manley-Prowe from France. While I found her to be quite convincing at times, her accent kept sliding between French and posh British. It kept me guessing whether she was supposed to be French or British pretending to be French. Col. Gillweather (played by Caleb Warren) is a great example of a British Colonel and had the me laughing with his great time keeping and counting.
The dance number “Dinghy” with Flint (played by Chris Sykes) and Lettie (played by Madison Rigby) is terribly funny and preposterous. Sykes plays a very convincing sleazy caretaker, and Rigby is great at complaining and moaning about the situation they find themselves in. Rigby hit a great note in “Dinghy” and was a joy to watch.
Scenic designer Cully Long designed with all the details in mind making it easy to believe that the characters are in an English manor in the 1930s. With so much detail in the set, it was easy to hide the parts of the set that end up becoming important to the plot. Prop designers Jean Wilson and Porter Lance must have had fun creating quite the collection of weapons, ranging from multiple guns, to spears, and garden shears. The exquisite set of goblets and decanters and other household props were great details that added to the show’s surprises. From exploding stairs to hidden phones and strange statues blowing poisonous darts, this manor is quite extravagant. Finally, a review of Something’s Afoot at Weber State University would not be complete without mentioning the lighting (designed by Jessica Greenberg) and sound (designed by Spenser Johnson and Micah Maxson). The eerie and mysterious red and blue lighting is expertly accomplished, and the sound effects—including the storm, explosions, gun shots, and telephones—were first-rate.
Thanks to costumer Catherine Zublin, the entire cast was well dressed to fit the characters’ exaggerated personas. The meticulous design gave lavish costumes to Lady Grace Manley-Prowe and Hope Langdon befitting their station. I particularly liked Col. Gillweather’s pants and the attention to details like the lines in the tights for Miss Tweed.
With plenty of murder and mayhem, Something’s Afoot is a perfect show to see this Halloween season. With a closing night less than a week away, this show is passing away too soon. However, be sure you make it out alive, because cast members are dying off left and right—and nobody knows who the murderer is.