16 March 2007
Junior League Presents Stedham's Mystery Play
By: Hervey Folsom
Jacksonville News Staff Writer
Reprinted here from the Jacksonville News.
”Many Unhappy Returns”, the Junior League Mystery Dinner Theatre
play showing this weekend starts with the creative mind of play writer Mike
Stedham and ends in fun for all. A murder takes place at a birthday party and
everyone in the cast is a suspect.
But hopefully, “returns” in this comedy will mean happy returns for the
league — amusing reaction and dollars added to the pot for the fund-raiser at
the Anniston Museum of Natural History.
It’s very likely that this whodunit will be a big seller and fulfill that
The night starts at 6:30 both evenings. The ticket includes cocktails, dinner
and the lineup of 13 “suspects”, and clues given out by the actors for $1 per
clue. Finally, an announcement will spotlight the table of guessers that solve
the murder mystery.
This is Stedham’s second play to be presented by the Junior League of
Anniston-Calhoun, Inc. His plot last spring, involving murder at an art show
earned laughs and just enough surprise about the revealed murderess at the
night’s end to create good suspense and entertainment. Remembering this, league
members and their fellow sleuths look forward to this weekend.
“I love writing comedies,” Stedham said. “I love making people laugh.”
Actually, he already has ideas for the next year’s mystery if he is invited to
write the script for the fund-raiser.
What seems magic about this and last year’s productions is the individuality
and originality of the cast. “We always seem to have the right people for the
right roles,” Stedham remarked. And, take it from this cast member; each actor
adds just the right spark of interest in presenting the puzzle.
Stedham has cast Wayne Claeren as “Rich Greene”, the richest and most unloved
man in town, who meets an unexpected (or expected?) death. The other characters
are in Greene’s family plus his employees, and inspectors. Julie Jackson
portrays the detective. Sonya Surrett was cast as the nurse, Annette Wolfe as
the secretary and Thom Pratt, as the attorney. Bob Folsom, the butler and Hervey
Folsom as the maid are the employees.
In the “Greene family” are Debby Tyson as Mrs. Greene, Kara Silvers and Laura
Rigsby as Greene’s daughters, Kate Stedham as his rebel granddaughter, and
agents Tim Doyle as Billy Joe and Chris Willingham as Joe Bob. All have
something to gain from his death. But, the deeper the mystery, the better the
evening, as cast members are finding out.
Dr. Claeren in key role
Dr. Wayne Claeren, professor of drama at Jacksonville State University, is
enjoying the interlude of acting the role of Rich Greene in Stedham’s play while
fulfilling the responsibility of being professor of drama, one of three artistic
directors in the JSU drama department, and teacher. He played major roles in
“The Late Mr. Shakespeare”, and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” at JSU
as well as Anniston Community Theatre’s “The Dresser”. Dr. Claeren describes his
current role as “the bad guy with not many redeeming qualities”.
“It’s refreshing being in a show like this one,” Dr. Claeren said. “I can
enjoy doing something like ‘Hamlet’ and I can enjoy being ‘Rich Greene’, which
is just the opposite, and strictly for fun. It’s good being involved in both and
good for a director to get back to acting.”
He added that the focus in this entertainment is the mystery itself instead
of complicated characters. Viewers have a chance to guess who did it so they
must carefully watch what goes on.
Stedham is manager of Student Media at JSU. He also writes articles for
publications for colleges, including the University of Alabama in Birmingham and
Longleaf Style, a magazine published by The Anniston Star.
Tickets for the mystery dinner theater are $50 per person. For ticket
information, call April Mefford at 591-7669 today.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
Note: JSU faculty, staff and students may access The
Jacksonville News online through their affiliation with the University.
Those not affiliated with JSU may have to subscribe to receive The
Jacksonville News online. If you already subscribe to The Jacksonville
News, you receive a complimentary online membership. This provides
complete access to all the content and services of the site at no
additional charge. Otherwise there is an online monthly charge for
their online service. Contact The Jacksonville News for information.
for news releases by using the request form at www.jsu.edu/newswire/request.