by LAUREN SCHUSTER, Asst. Features Editor
Mimes, murders and squirrel hunting sisters were only a few of the wacky elements of this year’s Player’s murder mystery show, “A Family Reunion to Die For” by Matt and Mike Steele.
The show centers around Freddie Franklin, played by junior Peter Martino, and his wife Christine, played by senior Michelle Lapreay. As the couple attends Christine’s family reunion, it turns out to be anything but what they expected.
By the end of the show, three of Christine’s family members are dead and Freddie manages to successfully play detective to reveal the killer-with a little help from beyond the grave, that is.
“My favorite thing about my character is how big of an idiot he is,” Martino said. “It’s a lot of fun to play someone who’s just a man-child.”
Martino’s character is largely driven by his wife, and in many instances, she dictates his actions and disciplines him like a mother would a child.
“My favorite part about my character is that she’s really here to take control, but behind her husband a bit, controlling him from behind, and I think that’s really funny,” Lapreay said.
Christine’s aunt Gretchen, played by Clare Farrelly, is the first murder victim of the evening, who then returns from the dead, stopping the action of the play to guide oblivious Freddie to the right clues without him even realizing it.
“I like playing the old lady because it’s funny, and I like making people laugh,” Farrelly said. “And I love that I get to stop the whole show and make a speech.”
Unlike the Players’ mainstage productions, the annual murder mystery is always student directed. This year, the show was directed by senior Matt Peters and junior Paul Fucao, with sophomore Gabriella DePinho assistant directing.
“I would say [a student directed show] is different in that the cast has a close relationship with the directors, first of all, because we’re peers,” Fucao said. “And I want to say that we’re more open to ideas from the cast. For example in this show … we derail from the script in numerous situations. We are going all out with the jokes [and] concepts.”
This close relationship between cast members and directors is also something that the cast values, as it creates a more relaxed rehearsal environment and allows them to add their own touches to the show.
“I like that it’s more casual,” Lapreay said. “It feels like there’s a mutual respect of the students who are directing and the students who are acting, and it’s really cool to see that a big production like this can fill up Smith Auditorium and it was a senior, a junior and a sophomore who directed it.”
As student directors, Peters and Fucao were also tasked with choosing the show over the summer. After browsing through show after show with none of them sparking his interest, Peters noticed an element of this script that instantly had him sold.
“This is a true story, I was looking, and I found a lot of crappy [scripts] and then I saw one that said ‘this has mimes in it,’ and I said ‘this is going to be funny, we’re doing that.’ I had no idea what it was about, nothing, I only picked it because it has mimes in it,” Peters said.
Fucao, who ended up playing one of the mimes in addition to directing, was sold as well. For Peters and Fucao, the show is less about delivering every line of the script as it’s written, and more about seeing what their cast can bring to each scene.
“From the casting process to the read through to tech week, it’s just a road of discovering the limits of your actors and finding that there really is no limit because everybody is so creative, and it’s a really nice feeling,” Fucao said.
Peters agreed, crediting the cast’s dedication and creativity for making the show more than he could have imagined it to be at the start.
“I will say that this is arguably the best cast that I’ve worked with and I’ve directed because we started rehearsals late, we started most nights this week at 9:30 [and] we didn’t get out until 12:30, and they came in and they stayed. And I knew they were tired, but they just did it, and they had high energy and it was great,” Peters said.
Ultimately, Peters and Fucao simply enjoy seeing their cast put their all into the final performance that they’ve worked so hard to reach.
“For me, the most fun part about this show is stepping back and watching them know what to do,” Peters said. “The most fun is when they are on stage and trying to just make each other laugh, because that’s what the show is all about.”
Editor’s note: Gabriella DePinho is an assistant news editor for The Quadrangle.