September 1, 2014

‘Something’s Afoot’ at Goodspeed

The set is the thing in Something’s Afoot at the Goodspeed Opera House, according to reviewer Joanne Greco Rochman.

The set is the thing in Something’s Afoot at the Goodspeed Opera House, according to reviewer Joanne Greco Rochman.The set is the thing in Something’s Afoot at the Goodspeed Opera House, according to reviewer Joanne Greco Rochman.

“Something’s Afoot,” a musical whodunit, is currently playing at the Goodspeed Opera House and here is what is afoot. It’s the set. One of the most elaborate and imaginative sets to ever grace Goodspeed, created by Adrian W. Jones, gets a rave review. 

However, that’s the only positive for this production. With music, book, and lyrics by James McDonald, David Vos, and Robert Gerlach and additional music and lyrics by Ed Linderman, this Agatha Christie-type mystery fell flat on its music, book and lyrics. The ending is clever, but nothing besides the set and ultimate solution is memorable about this production. While the Equity professional cast performed well, none of them stood out. None of the songs will be remembered, none of the dancing is memorable and even the mystery is forgettable. 

Overall, it is a shame that the Goodspeed Opera House has brought back such a dud. According to the playbill, it was well received at the Goodspeed Opera House when it first opened in the early 1970s. It somehow made it to Broadway in 1976, where it was panned by most critics. Nonetheless, here it is again like a bad penny showing up when least expected. 

The audience, which is pretty savvy, applauded for the set as soon as the curtain opened.  It is everything that you would expect to find in an old mansion where murder is about to take place. Big double entry doors, a staircase, swords hanging on a wall, and the family crest are prominently displayed. Add to this Jay Hilton’s sound design of thunder and rain, and you have the perfect setting for a dark and stormy night. 

One of many mysteries of the production is how the cast was selected. It is, after all, a musical. Yet, several of the performers had voices that were not fit for a musical venue. Add to this the mystery of the missing comic timing, and one has to point a finger at the director/choreographer Vince Pesce. 

On opening night, Alyssa Gagarin stepped in for Julia Osborne as Hope Langdon, the ingénue. Liz Pearce plays the saucy maid; Khris Lewin plays the caretaker, Ron Wisniski takes on the role of butler, and Peter Van Wagner plays the doctor. Audrie Neenan plays Miss Tweed, the amateur detective. Also in this cast are Benjamin  Eakeley, Lynne Wintersteller, Ed Dixon, and Hunter Ryan Herdlicka. 

This lackluster production plays through Dec. 9. Box office: 860-873-8668.

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers art and culture in a blog for CBS National and CBS-CT.  She welcomes comments. Contact: jgrochman@gmail.com.