Spring Play ‘Murder’s in the Heir’ proves to be a worthwhile watch

This+year%27s+Spring+Play+had+a+relatively+small+cast+of+only+fourteen+people.+In+this+scene+you+can+see+the+majority+of+them+gather+in+the+living+room+for+Simon+Starkweather%27s+big+announcement.

Antoni Leiker

This year’s Spring Play had a relatively small cast of only fourteen people. In this scene you can see the majority of them gather in the living room for Simon Starkweather’s big announcement.

Thunder roars in the distance. Lights flicker on and off sporadically. Thirteen people gather in the living room of the mansion. The owner of the estate murdered. Nine suspects are present. Whodunnit? That is for you to decide.

The Spring Play on March 11, 12 and 13 was an interactive murder mystery titled “Murder’s in the Heir,” written by Billy St. John and directed by Bill Gasper. This was the same play that was planned for last year, but the cast never got to perform it due to school closing.

The basic plot is that an eccentric billionaire gathered his heirs together to tell them that he is changing his will and they will not receive near as much money. Unsurprisingly, he is found dead later that night, and the investigation ensues.

One unique aspect was that it was a play within a play. Every once in a while, the “director,” played by junior Devlyn Jochum, would enter and clarify plot points. This was very helpful, as there were a lot of names and motives to remember.

This is a plot we are no doubt all familiar with, from the Clue movie to any other murder mystery that followed in its footsteps. The thing that sets this production apart is its interactive element. The audience was able to vote for whom they wanted to be the killer at intermission, and the second act was determined by which character got the most votes.

Not only did this force me to devote my full attention into seeing if the character I voted for had won, but it generally just made me more excited to find out the culprit in general. It is also worth noting how much skill it would take to literally not know how the play will end when you start performing it.

I attended the opening night showing on March 11 at 12th Street Auditorium. The show lasted about two hours with a 15-minute intermission in the middle.

When I saw that the cast was going to be dawning face masks for their performance, while I commended their dedication to COVID safety, I was concerned their voices would be muffled and the dialogue would be hard to follow. Fortunately, I was incorrect, and the cast did a great job of projecting and not letting the masks hinder the show.

My first thoughts when the show started were about how wonderful the lighting and sound effects were. The crew did a great job of making it feel like there was a raging storm and a power outage happening. In addition to that the set looked beautiful; it was very clear that a lot of time and effort had been put into making it feel like the living room of a billionaire.

The standout performances of the night where senior Andrew Duke as Simon Starkweather and Simon Starkweather III, senior Tom Drabkin as Jordan Starkweather and Jochum as Jean Culpepper. Duke for his range in playing both the cranky murder victim and the investigative grandson. Drabkin for his natural likeability that made me root for his character despite his many flaws. And, Jochum for quite literally being the glue that held this play together; on top of making the plot easy to follow, she also added some much-needed comic relief.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this play, and I recommend going to see it while you still can. It was very nice to go see a show again after over a year with no Spring Play or Fall Musical. I am excited to see what this group will accomplish in the future.

Remember: Trust no one. Suspect everyone. And, never under any circumstances reveal your plans to change your will when you are trapped in a house with multiple people who would not want you to do that.

21abrooks@usd489.com