‘Murder Crime’ and ‘The Will’ bring mystery to EHS

Dark mansions, widows, strangers, and more, all featured in this year's winter plays

Alexis Yi, staff writer

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Suspense and intrigue: Murder Crime at Brockingsforde Manor and The Will are this year’s winter productions for the Edina High School Thespians. The two plays both fall into the mystery genre, but they have separate casts. The Will is a one-act play by J. M. Barrie and Murder Crime is this year’s annual winter play, with multiple acts.

Murder Crime follows nine strangers who are led to a dark mansion by an obscure invitation. There, they must navigate the labyrinthine rooms and halls to solve a murder mystery before it’s too late. Despite its dark premise, Murder Crime is also humorous.

Our goal is to make the audience laugh at least once every 30 seconds for an hour. We are working to build a show that is fun, lighthearted, and celebratory,” director Justin Spooner said. Spooner is a faculty member at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.

Senior Erin Deegan will play the dowager, one of the main characters in Murder Crime. Deegan has been in Edina theatre programs since the 6th grade. Now, the dowager is the last play role of her high school career.

“She’s a widow who’s been married many times, and her husband disappeared in mysterious ways. She’s very driven by greed, overdramatic, very driven by romance. It’s [an] overdramatic role that’s very fun to play,” Deegan said. Deegan said she especially enjoys characters who are flamboyant and dramatic. The cast of Murder Crime consists of twenty students.

The one-act play The Will is directed by John Riedlinger and its cast consists of only seven students total. The Will follows a young couple coming to a lawyer’s office to make a will, and both the lawyers’ story and the couple’s story are focal points of the play. Each scene is a different period of time, designed to showcase the development of the characters.

Senior Matt Johnson plays Robert Devizes, one of the lawyers. “He’s kind of like an Oxford brat to start but matures over the course of the show,” Johnson said. Johnson first started theatre in eighth grade. He said he initially joined for his friends, and the community in theatre remains an important part of his experience.

The plays began to come together when students auditioned in mid-November. Each chose one of two sessions to audition, where they did improv prompts and ran through scenes in front of the directors. About fifty people auditioned, but only half were given roles.

Now, rehearsals are underway, with a focus on physical blocking; that is,  determining where or how characters will move. The rehearsals for Murder Crime and The Will are in the Black Box Theatre. “Especially with plays, you never know what to expect…‘cause even when you have the script, things can change,” Deegan said. “We’ve just been blocking kind of scene by scene. Right now rehearsals have been very collaborative.”

As for The Will, Riedlinger allows the actors to explore different personas. “He gives us the basic outline for a scene, but still lets us experiment and try new things…granted, he’s very adamant about telling us what is and isn’t working,” Johnson said.

At the end of the production season, The Will will be performed at the Section 6AA MSHSL One Act Play Contest in late January/early February. The Will will first be put on at EHS on Jan 25 and 26 and Murder Crime will be performed at EHS on Jan. 31, Feb. 1 and 2.

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