Good Reviews R Us: Murder Takes the Stage!

Plot thickens in staging a ‘Murder’ at St. James


When playwright Drew Pelman snags theater star Hazel Laverne for the summer theatre opening of his new play, he’s assured of a hit, or is he? It’s quickly clear in OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Co.’s production of James Reach’s “Murder Takes the Stage” that most in the cast have reason to dislike Hazel intensely and there’s very little about Hazel to like.

Even the audience finds her character hard to take and when Hazel is shot and killed for real on stage during a scene where her character is supposedly shot with blanks from a gun, the plot thickens as the other actors tell their tales of jealousy and blackmail in relationship to Hazel. It’s up to the local sheriff and Mitzi, the college student who loves true crime, to set a trap for the murderer.

The play is set in the late 1950s, but director Jo Rake said that the cast “is representative of today’s theatre community and adds a modern touch to the play.” There are 13 actors in the play and each has to establish his or her character before Hazel is killed. The cast, a blend of seasoned and new performers, does a good job of that. Some that are especially noteworthy include Sandra Cox True, who plays Miss Liz, owner of the theatre; Steve Kramer as Hazel’s promoter Larry Strickland; Jo Klein-Duke as Sara Farnham, an actress whose career has seen better days; Penny Martin as Jane Bond, who runs the summer theater; and Michael Parker, as the wily, down-home-style Sheriff Wiley.

Mitzi is played by Angela Abadir, 15, a Bowie High School student. Abadir shows us an overzealous Nancy Drew character who won’t give up until she solves the mystery.

Kudos to the entire cast for making their characters believable and for keeping the audience’s attention as first one then another is considered for the murder of Hazel – and all of this on a bare stage with no props or sets, only folding chairs and one small table where the director sat. The taped interlude music prepared by Rake and artistic director Betsy Delaney adds to the atmosphere as the story builds to its conclusion and the murderer is identified.

“Murder Takes the Stage” is the third production of the relatively new theatre company OutOftheBlackBox and its first presentation in Bowie. The company seeks to offer an environment where performers and production staff can experiment with all different aspects of production from acting to technical support to administration. For information, visit
Published 05/03/07, Copyright © 2007 The Bowie Blade

Way to go, cast and crew (and director)!!!

Shows remaining: Friday/Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm through May 12. Tickets: 301-922-1865 or tickets at o2b2 dot oh-arr-gee!

Two weekends left: Murder Takes the Stage!

I have it on good authority that we’re going to get a positive review from the Bowie Blade this Thursday.

C’mon – it’s camp, it’s just about two hours (including intermission), and it’s only $15 ($12 Seniors/Students), and – best deal of all – get 10 or more together prepaid and you can see the show for just $10 each! That’s just about the cost of admission to a movie these days. Better yet, visit the Old Bowie Town Grille for dinner and get a fabulous meal to boot!

Murder Takes the Stage by James Reach, directed by Jo Rake, produced by Yours Truly, plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm, plus this Sunday at 3pm at St. James Episcopal Church in Historic Old Bowie, MD. For more info, visit our web site:

To see what the Blade has to say this Thursday: and

Also of note: Nominations for next year’s Board of Directors opens on May 9th – Nominate early and often: nominate at o2b2 dot oh-ar-gee!

And watch this space for announcements of our next workshop, season selections for 2007-2008 and more!

Murder Takes the Stage opening TONIGHT!

Yes, folks, in just 18 and a half short hours, James Reach’s Murder Takes the Stage opens at St. James Episcopal Church in Historic Old Bowie, MD.

There’s a wonderful article in the Bowie Blade-News ( and the Gazette (which hasn’t updated its web site yet, so phooey on them).

There weren’t all that many people in the house tonight, but from what I saw through the cracks in the curtain from the kitchen, the show was working. I’d really LOVE to have people in the house this weekend. We’re already two-thirds sold out for the second matinee on May 6th.

Performance dates are: April 27 – May 12, 8pm Friday and Saturdays, Sunday 4/29 and 5/6 at 3pm. St. James Episcopal Church in Historic Old Bowie, MD.

You can reserve your tickets by calling 301-922-1865 or sending email to tickets at o2b2 dot org. We just need to know who’s reserving, a contact number, the quantity and type of tickets being reserved ($15 General Admission, $12 Seniors/Students, $10 prepaid for groups of ten or more.

For directions, visit our web site at!

Hope we see you there!

Tickets on sale NOW! Murder Takes the Stage – Opening this Friday, April 27!

WHERE : St. James Episcopal Church, 13010 8th St., Bowie MD  20720
WHEN :  Fridays and Saturdays 4/27, 4/28, 5/5, 5/6, 5/11, 5/12 at 8 pm, Sundays 4/29. 5/6 at 3 pm

To reserve tickets for the show, please call 301/922.1865 or send email to tickets at and we will add you to our list.

Tickets are $15, $12 for Seniors/Students, and $10 each for group orders of 10 or more. Cash or check accepted. We are unable to accept credit cards at this time!

For more information on the show, please visit our web site:

ALSO: Looking for individual(s) to assist with usher/box office. If you are interested in helping out, please send email to info at and we’ll work out the schedule!


Four roles still open! Additional auditions TUESDAY!


I’d appreciate it if you’d post this info where it seems appropriate, ASAP!!!

Additional auditions to be held tomorrow (Tuesday, January 30) from 7-9pm at the Director’s home. To arrange an audition and for directions, please contact us ASAP at 301-262-5201 (after 9am) or send email to prof20336 at yahoo com. This is a non-paid community theatre production.

Four roles still open (see synopsis/characters below). All ethnicities welcome. Auditions will consist of cold readings. Performance dates are April 27 to May 12, 2007 at St. James Episcopal Church in Bowie, MD.

From our web site:

MURDER TAKES THE STAGE by James Reach. Directed by Jo Rake. Produced by Betsy Delaney

This exciting mystery takes place at a Summer Theater, run by one Jane Bond, where a new play’s being rehearsed to open the season.Mitzi, Jane’s eager and lovely niece, has just joined the company. She’s a crime stories addict and she’s the heroine of the ensuing proceedings. Drew Pelman, the play’s author, has somehow managed to sign Hazel Laverne, glamorous theater personality, to star. It’s soon apparent Hazel’s cordially detested by most of the troupe who know her professionally from the past. During a rehearsal, a gun supposedly loaded with blanks is fired at Hazel, and she plays a very convincing death scene—for she’s truly dead! The local Sheriff and Mitzi’s set a most ingenious trap for the murderer.

Characters still open:

Jane Bond (35-45) runs a summer theater. A person of obvious breeding, she is personable, well-mannered and quietly efficient.

Sara Farnham (50s) is a former star whose looks are faded. She has a strong personality and the manners of a “Grande Dame”.

Ollie Dunning (30-45), the director of “the play”, is a poised, secure man with the personality of a leader. [May be cast female.]

Hal Rush (30-40s) is an actor usually assigned to character roles. He is not particularly attractive and has a caustic and unpleasant manner.

Read more on our web site


Betsy Marks Delaney
Artistic Director
OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company

ANNOUNCING A full weekend of events for O2B2!

Hello, all!

Very sorry if you receive this message more than once. We share too many similar interests!

Announcing a very busy weekend for OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company:

*FREE WORKSHOP: A new adaptation of Ben Jonson’s Volpone written and directed by Bill Jones, Ph.D., produced by Betsy Marks Delaney*

Please join us at 8pm on Friday, January 26 & Saturday, January 27, 2007 at the Goodloe Memorial Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1540-C Pointer Ridge Place, Bowie, MD 20716.

This is your chance to preview our production, now scheduled for the Cap Fringe Fest this summer! Discussion to follow each evening event.

If you wish to participate as a reader, please contact us at info-at-o2b2-dot-org or call 301-922-1865. Looking to fill a total of 12 characters (some double casting possible, 5 men, 2 women, 5 male/female roles). Brief rehearsal period required. (1-2 evenings prior to event.)


*AUDITIONS: Murder Takes the Stage by James Reach, directed by Jo Rake, produced by Betsy Delaney*

Auditions will be held at the Glenn Dale Volunteer Fire Department (11900 Glenn Dale Blvd, Glenn Dale, MD 20769) on January 28 from 3:30 – 5:30 PM and 29 from 7 – 9:00 PM. Seeking 6 men (ages 25-65) and 7 women (ages 18-70). Auditions will consist of cold readings. All roles are open. This is a volunteer (non-paid) production.

More information on both of these events can be found on our web site:

or by calling 301.922.1865.


Hope to see you there!

Betsy Marks Delaney Artistic Director,
OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company

ANNOUNCING Auditions for “Murder Takes the Stage,” an OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company Production


AUDITIONS ANNOUNCED FOR “Murder Takes the Stage”

What: OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) will hold auditions for “Murder Takes the Stage,” a play written by James Reach, directed by Jo Rake, produced by Betsy R. Delaney. Performances by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. Performance dates are April 27 to May 12, 2007.

Director Jo Rake is seeking six men, ages 25 to 60, and seven women, ages 18 to 70. All roles are open. All ethnicities are welcome. Auditions will consist of cold readings.

When: on Sunday, January 28, 2007 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM and Monday, January 29, 2007 from 7 to 9 PM.

Where: The meeting hall at Glenn Dale Volunteer Fire Department, 11900 Glenn Dale Blvd (MD 193), Glenn Dale, MD

Also seeking: Production designers/team members and technicians.

Comments: For additional information, including play summary and character descriptions, visit the website at or contact the director at 301-262-5201 or

OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2), founded in 2004, is devoted to the experience of theatre in all its forms. O2B2 encourages an environment of experimentation with all aspects of production, from acting to technical to administration. O2B2>s primary focus is on theatre about theatre.

CONTACT: Jo Rake, Director
Voice: 301-262-5201 – Fax: 413.751.7320

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