The time: An evening sometime in the 1920s.
The scene: A wrap up party for a new Hollywood film, “The Rose Has Two Thorns,” is being held at the producer's home. There are six people in attendance celebrating, but the festivities take a dive when the host ends up taking the “big sleep.” Those left standing take turns pointing the finger at one another, in between songs, as they try to discover who bumped off the host.
The players: Frank the producer (Robb Barnard), his wife Vidalia, a fading, aging movie actress (Carissa McCurdy), the stars of film who are on screen-off screen lovers, Marcus (Grant Jacoby) and Fiona (Maggie Wakim), Terrance, Maggie’s bodyguard (Scott Muligan) and Frank and Vidalia's maid, Charlotte (Teresa Morrison).
Sure. Carousel has done murder mysteries before, but this one was written by 2013 cast member Grant Jacoby. What started as an idea for a singer's choice closing show evolved into a singer's choice whodunnit. The cast presented their idea to Barnard, performer and owner of the Carousel. Barnard gave his full support.
The show is also a way for this cast to give back to the Carousel, a venue where they have learned much and grown as performers.
“I've learned about working to, and off of, an audience,” McCurdy said. “We've all had to learn to memorize song lyrics and dialogue quickly — about a week! We all work well as a cast, I think, because we are all so different.”
Jacoby said it's also a way to showcase their talents, those learned at the Carousel and those they brought with them.
Jacoby wrote the script, but he collaborated with his roommates/fellow actors as well. Each actor submitted two or three songs he or she wanted to sing. Jacoby figured out which ones worked for the show and his thespian colleagues. After the draft script was finished he showed it to the cast, and two weeks ago to he showed it to Barnard.
This is not the first time he has penned a show. While attending Connecticut College he wrote and directed a full length play, “Surrender Ohio,” a family drama/ghost story; and some one acts.
The cast's fondness for their Carousel experience and love of performance kept them in the cast house for two extra days to work together on this new show. They began rehearsing just last week as a group and individually with musical director/pianist Paolo Perez.
“We all really wanted to do it, to stay and work together on a new show,” Jacoby said. “Actors are always bouncing ideas; what if I'm holding this prop in my hand when I say this … What if I say that this way … it's one of the best things about working with other people.”
The actors will design their own blocking during their songs, allowing the collaboration to continue.
Of his murder mystery script for Carousel Jacoby said, “At the Carousel, the plots are fun and silly; the scenes provide the transition between songs because its the music that is really important. This show is written in true Carousel fashion.”
Jacoby's only teaser for the closing night audience: “Nothing is what it seems.”
Just as the murder mystery takes place in a single evening, so does this production, on Saturday, Oct. 12. Doors open at the grand old barn at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and the show are $20, with a limited menu.
Make reservations by calling Carousel at 207-633-5297. For more about the theater visit its website, www.carouselmusictheater.com.