Members of the Our Town Theatre Group’s cast of “Postmortem” — a mystery thriller by Ken Ludwig — get ready to rehearse. From left are Dan Studnicky (Bobby), Hannah Jay (May), Dennis Wilson (Leo), Judy Stafford (Louise), Maryann Sauro (Aunt Lilly), Barbara Westbrook (Marion), and Eric D. Potter (William Gillette). The play will be performed in the Lyle Dye Auditorium at Tannery Pond Community Center on Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students through grade 12. To order tickets, call (518) 406-8840 or email the ticket order to OTTGTickets@gmail.com.
Members of the Our Town Theatre Group (OTTG) will be performing a mystery thriller this weekend featuring an eccentric actor and a séance in a Connecticut castle during “Postmortem,” a play by Ken Ludwig.
Director Colleen Potter said she was looking for something different for the fall main stage production, and the OTTG has never produced a mystery thriller before.
“Since our show goes up in October, we figured we’d do something that ties in with the Halloween theme,” Potter said. “I read a couple different plays, and ‘Postmortem’ was the one that really struck me.”
This play poses some logistical challenges for the group, including building sets for the time period, April 1922.
“And all of the technical elements of it, from gunshots to magic theatrics happening on stage,” Potter said. “There’s a séance in one of the scenes that had its own technical elements that posed a challenge.”
There are also challenges for the actors, who are working hard to keep the scenes fun and thrilling, shying away from melodrama.
“We’re trying to keep it more realistic,” Potter said. “The actors are working on keeping their reactions natural and their characters realistic.”
The main character is based on a real actor, William Gillette (1853-1937). In the play, the cast of his latest Broadway revival of “Sherlock Holmes” has assembled for a weekend of relaxation at his medieval castle on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River.
Ludwig describes his own play this way:
“For entertainment, actor-manager, playwright and heart-throb William Gillette, best known for his 30-year portrayal of the famous crime sleuth Sherlock Holmes, has arranged a séance. Now the scene is set for his greatest role. Someone is trying to murder Gillette and he suspects it is one of his guests. Intrepid, eccentric and wildly romantic, Gillette plans to solve the case himself à la Sherlock Holmes.”
So who did the director find to play the heart-throb?
“I don’t know if you want to print this,” Potter said with a laugh, “but it’s actually my husband. Eric Potter plays William Gillette. He’s been in a number of our shows lately. He plays the main role, and he happens to be my husband … He’s a very strong actor. He’s trained at the collegiate level.”
It was Gillette who formed the classic look the world associates with Sherlock Holmes, a character created by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
“As an actor, he worked with Doyle on adaptations of the story for the stage,” Potter said. “He very much owned that character and knew it very well, and it was possibly questionable on where the line was between the actor and the character in the man’s mind over time. So that’s why it’s a challenge for actors.”
The cast includes Hannah Jay from North River; Barbara Westbook from Indian Lake; Judy Stafford and Dan Studnicky of North Creek; and Dennis Wilson, Maryann Sauro and Eric D. Potter of Chestertown. Trish Gardner is the stage manager while Mary Ellen Dowling and Carolyn Bischoff are the production managers. Costumes are by Robin Jay and Jane Castaneda, and Eric Potter is the technical director.
The London Times said of Ludwig’s play, “A Sherlock Holmes whodunnit kind of mystery packed with suspects and tinged with suspense and laughter.”
Colleen Potter extended a thank-you to Basil & Wick’s restaurant in North Creek for being the event sponsor for the production of “Postmortem.”
Performances will be held on Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. in the Lyle Dye Auditorium at Tannery Pond Community Center. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students through grade 12. To order tickets, call 406-8840 or email the ticket order to OTTGTickets@gmail.com.
The play does contain some adult language and situations and may not be suitable for young audiences.