New Playhouse show is just murder
— Created November 2, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Whodunnit lovers, rejoice! The latest production at Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor is a good, old fashioned murder mystery – with a little romance thrown into the mix.
“Earth and Sky,” written by Douglas Post and directed for the Playhouse by Kevin Wm. Meyer, opens Friday and will run through Nov. 20. The story follows the blooming romance between the characters Sarah McKeon and David Ames, which goes horribly wrong.
“It’s a murder mystery/thriller,” described Meyer. “A woman meets a man on the waterfront. They strike up a conversation, fall in love and 10 weeks later, she is informed that he was shot to death. She is also told he may have been involved in some seriously criminal activities. Unwilling to believe this could possibly be the same man she gave her heart to, she sets out to uncover the truth.”
This production is a true mystery with many twists and turns Meyer said audiences will love trying to solve.
“The audience has to be on their toes to follow the clues in this one,” he said. “I’d be curious to know if anyone figures out where this story is going and how it will end. I also like the strong, determined female lead the playwright has created.
“Besides the obvious who-done-it aspect of all murder mysteries, I hope everyone can identify with the situation that Sarah, the main character, finds herself in,” Meyer continued. “How brave would we be in her shoes?”
“[Sarah] is someone who, in some way, is deeply lonely,” said Anna Schenck, who plays Sarah. “Once that loneliness is alleviated by her boyfriend, you see her become more assured of herself and her life. And when he is taken away, you watch her emerge into this fierce amateur detective who is desperate to clear his name.
“I really love how her character grows,” she continued. “She starts off as gullible and soft and then develops this inner strength and determination that is required. She leans in and follows her intuition, rather than letting those around her silence her. I think it’s a testament to how strong women truly are, especially when it comes to protecting those we love.”
David Thuet, who plays Sarah’s love interest and murder victim David Ames, is making his first stage appearance with “Earth and Sky.” While his character meets his demise early in the play, the audience comes to know him through a series of flashbacks that follow his romance with Sarah.
“David is a character with a rough past and finds himself repeatedly down on his luck, but when he meets the main character, Sarah, he is immediately swept away by her dreamy, adventurous, almost fairytale view of the world,” he said. “I don’t have many prior experiences with which to compare, but playing a dead character via flashbacks is both fun and sad. If I can accurately portray him how I see him, the audience will come to love David, but feel sad as that realization comes, given they already know of his untimely death.”
It is officially up to two detectives to try to solve the murder. Wesley Moran plays Detective H.E. Weber.
“Weber is the lead detective in the murder of David Ames,” he said. “His life becomes much more complex when he meets a persistent young woman set on conducting her own investigation, despite the danger.
“I have always loved solving puzzles and that’s what the play really is, a who-done-it in the middle of a love story,” Moran continued. “The opportunity to be a piece of the puzzle was too good to pass up.”
“Detective Al Kersnowski is a gentle soul in a rough profession,” said Gary Gillespie of his character. “He’s been around and seen too much. An earnest crime-fighter, he is more wise than he is bright. Kersnowski is dealing with the death of his brother, also a cop, killed in the line of duty. His grief helps him empathize with heroine Sarah.”
As with any good mystery, the story wouldn’t be complete without some “bad guys.”
“I get to play a character that has little or no regard for people, said Rusty Chapin, who plays Carl Eisenstadt. “This is such a contrast in my life as a technology leader. Carl Eisenstadt is a refined but dangerous hitman. [He’s] a man of style and class, but don’t cross him. He is good at what he does, and you don’t want to know the details.”
“What I found most appealing about Julius Gatz was bringing a bad guy to life and trying to make him more than one dimensional,” said Nate Edmiston. “It’s always fun to play the bad guy. Gatz is part of the gangster team with Eisenstadt. Nothing happens in this city without their permission, or at least [without] them knowing about it.”
And then there are the characters in every good story who are more complicated than they first appear, like Joyce Lazlo, played by Jaime Powell.
“Joyce is a layered character, with more to her than meets the eye,” she said. “Joyce makes the acquaintance of Sarah, our heroine, early in Act I, and becomes her confidante as their friendship grows. She also tries to reign in Sarah’s inclination to put herself into dangerous situations as she attempts to solve the mystery of her lover’s brutal murder.”
Audiences are invited to follow all the twists and turns of “Earth and Sky” starting Friday at the Whidbey Playhouse, 730 SE Midway Blvd. in Oak Harbor. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 20. Tickets are available online at whidbeyplayhouse.com or at the box office, open from 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
“I always enjoy how the combination of the author’s printed word, my vision of what the production could be and what the actors bring to their roles, help to create this new piece of art that becomes the production the audience came to enjoy,” Meyer said. “I think the audience will appreciate the ride this story will take them and how it all resolves in the end.”
“This show hits all the human emotions that make life and live theater engaging,” said Thuet. “It portrays love, loss, intrigue, greed, mystery, death, deceit, truth. No matter your desired flavor of entertainment, you’ll find it somewhere in this play.”
“The twists and turns will keep your interest,” agreed Schenck. “I also think the characters presented are incredibly relatable. We all have our moments where we doubt ourselves, or are unsure of what we’re really doing when it comes trusting those around us. This play brings all of those feelings to the spotlight.”