‘Deathtrap’ not as serious as its name

Published 10:53 am Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Twin City Players will be presenting "Deathtrap" through February 23. (Photo submitted by Renee Wright)

The Twin City Players will be presenting “Deathtrap” through February 23. (Photo submitted by Renee Wright)

ST. JOSEPH — “It’s a great thriller and a great comedy,” said Bob Myers, when asked why audience members should brave Michigan’s snowy winds to attend an upcoming performance of The Twin City Players’ “Deathtrap.” “You know, in the middle of February, you need a laugh!”

Director of the current production and president of the theater company’s board of directors, Myers is understandably passionate about the new show.

“It’s live theater, and it’s great. We have a tremendous cast for it,” Myers said. “It’s hard for me to be objective, obviously, but If I had seen this in one of the major theaters in Chicago, I would have gone away saying, ‘This is why you pay $70 a ticket—to see theater of this quality.’”

The third mainstage production of the Twin City Players’ 2013-2014 season, the literary thriller “Deathtrap” by Ira Levin, is considered to be one of the great popular successes of recent Broadway history. The play offers audience members an opportunity to enjoy both gasp-inducing thrills and spontaneous laughter.

The plot revolves around the devious machinations of playwright Sidney Bruhl, played by Scott Bradford. In an attempt to improve his fortunes, he schemes to take credit for a masterpiece written by a student, Clifford Anderson, played by Steve Prouty.

With that as the backdrop for the on-stage action, Twin City Players promises an evening full of twists, turns and sudden shocks, such that audiences will be held spellbound until the very last moment of the play.

Supporting Bradford and Anderson in their presentation of the life-or-death game of cat and mouse are cast members Renee Wright as Myra Bruhl, Beth DeCoursey as Helga ten Dorp, and Brett Lutz as Porter Milgrim.

Working behind the scenes are assistant director Dennis Bachman, student director Rachel Thursby, stage manager Steve Hamel, costumer Tammy Green, and set designers Erin Bennett and Candace Seymour Myers. The role of lead set constructor is also filled by Bob Myers.

The play made its Broadway debut in 1978, and some audience members may remember the 1982 film version that starred Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon.

“It will essentially be the straight presentation of the show, but better acted, I think!” Myers said, when asked to compare the film with the Twin City Players’ version. “The thing is, live theater is the most powerful art form out there. There is nothing more powerful than that.”

“If audience members were watching the film at home on TV or in the cinema, they’d have very little reaction,” Myers explained. “But in the live theater, they’ll be laughing, crying, the whole range of emotions that you get only with a play.”

The Twin City Players chose the script for production because it is such a well-written play.

“This last year, we decided we wanted to do a whole season of award-winning shows—Tony Award winners, Pulitzer Award winners. ‘Deathtrap’ wasn’t actually a winner; it was a runner-up. But, it’s such a neat show that we wanted to do it anyway,” Myers said.

Other award-winners that the company will produce this season include Tennessee Williams’ “Streetcar Named Desire,” Oscar Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

“Deathtrap” opened on Jan. 31, and the show will run through Feb. 23. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and for 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons at the Twin City Players Playhouse, 600 West Glenlord Rd.

Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at (269) 429-0400. They can also be purchased online at www.twincityplayers.org. They are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $7 for children (12 and under). Group rates are also available.

“It’s live theater, right there in front of you. It’s real people. It’s not on a screen,” Myers said. “That beats the heck out of sitting at home and watching TV!”