A mysterious musical murder intended to mystify the public


Hallie Unruh (left) plays Rachel Hopewell and Jessica Rumrill plays Marjorie Baverstock.

Ashlee Larrison story
Photos of Ralph Freso
CUU Information Office

Mysterious characters.

Secret passages.

And a most despicable murder.

You name it and the Ethington Theater production of “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” has it.

John BishopThe 1987 black comedy transports audiences to 1940s New York and follows a team of performers auditioning for a musical at the Elsa Von Grossenknueten theater financier mansion. However, memories of the team’s last show, in which three choir girls were murdered by the mysterious “Stage Door Slasher,” linger as a series of quirks begin to plague the auditions.

The play is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday the next two weekends, September 10-12 and 17-19.

It’s a performance that the director Michael kary dit is better compared to a Clue game.

“This performance is kind of a tribute to those 1940s radio mysteries,” he said. “The bottom line is that we wanted to have the most fun welcoming people to the theater.”

After a full season of outdoor productions, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Bishop’s comedy should kick off the return to Grand Canyon University Ethington Theater.

Zac Ross plays Patrick O’Reilly.

The long-awaited Murder Mystery, originally slated for the 2020-2021 theater season, was the kind of performance that couldn’t be adapted for an outdoor scene and required an indoor release.


The simple luxury of being able to turn off the lights during certain scenes.

“There was just this simple, really easy rudimentary thing that kept us from telling the story effectively,” Kary said. “I think we were able to find some stories that could very well survive outdoors in this environment, but building a giant mansion on an outdoor stage is not something we could do last year. But we can do it inside.

And that’s exactly what they did.

The entire mansion provides a colorful and interactive environment for artists to explore. Even the simple turn of a desk clock activates surprises for the characters and the audience.

Gloria Hartung (left) plays Bernice Roth.

Manager Hannah hensley, who worked mainly on musicals, knew that working on a mystery murder was a hit she had to take.

“I knew it would push me further than I had ever been in a show,” she said. “With the intricacy and intricacy of the whole thing and all the sounds, all the lights and stuff, it definitely intrigued me because I knew it would make me grow.”

But Hensley isn’t the only student who grows on the experience. The performance itself has evolved since construction began at the start of last season.

“I’ve been a part of this show for over a year now,” Hensley said. “To finally see him come to life on stage is definitely something incredible.”

In addition to an impressive package, the show’s audio plays a major role in transporting the audience at the appropriate time.

Sound designer Daniella Brun says that in addition to old-fashioned classical music, radio work also plays a major role in the production.

“We have voices from our cast and our director that have been edited and edited to sound like they’re coming from regular radio,” she said. “There were a lot of moving parts, which was exciting, and we went 100% towards the greatest show we could do.”

The performance was also an opportunity for the cast members to play with what they could bring to their roles.

Nick Philips plays Ken De La Maize.

Philippe philips, who plays Ken De La Maize, says there was no shortage of talents he worked with on the show.

“My favorite experience so far has been really stretching out as an actor and working with this amazing cast,” he said. “We have really hard working people here, and it’s really fun to be on stage with all of them.

“It will be a really fun show for everyone.”

For Hallie unruh, who will play Rachel Hopewell (formerly Rodger Hopewell), the thrill of getting to work on the production stems from all the creative freedom artists have with their characters.

“With some directors, you get a block and you are told what to do, but he (Kary) just said, ‘Okay, go where you feel you should go. “” she said. “We were given a lot of creative freedom with jokes, songs and character voices.

“It’s terrifying but it’s also really cool to be able to build a character from body to movement through learning the lines.”

All in all, it’s a start to the season that the cast and crew say audiences won’t want to miss.

“I think it really shows how impressive this department is in terms of setting, sound and acting,” Hensley said. “It’s really something I’m incredibly proud of. I think it’s so intriguing and interesting to watch because something is changing every second.

“People should come and see the show only to be impressed and in awe of what we can do here.”



What: “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” by John Bishop

When: 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays from Sept. 10 to 19.

Or: Ethington Theater, GCU campus

Tickets: $ 12 entry. Discounted tickets for seniors, military, GCU and GCE employees, GCU alumni, children 12 and under, and GCU students.

Information: 602-639-8979 or [email protected]

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


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GCU today: Ethington season welcomes audiences back inside

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