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Fall Play: Rehearsal for Murder

    by Teresa Jackson, Director
    Posted on 10/6/2014

Synopsis of the Iowa Central Fall Play Production and a Note from the Director ~Teresa Jackson

I selected this year’s show for our fall production for a variety of reasons.  The title pretty much tells the genre—it’s a murder mystery—and one which surprised me. Rehearsal for Murder is one of the few mystery plays which truly captivated me from beginning to end. The story line revolves around a famous playwright whose movie star fiancé died the night of her Broadway debut. The death was ruled a suicide, but he believes many in their circle had motives for killing her, so he writes a “new play” and entices them back for a “reading”…on the very stage they had all shared exactly a year ago.

 Rehearsal for Murder was the winner of the Edgar Award, a prize bestowed annually by the Mystery Writers of America, and was originally created as a television movie in 1982 by acclaimed television greats, William Link and Richard Levinson. Their credits included creating, writing and producing more than 16 television series including Columbo, McCloud and Murder She Wrote. Those in my generation and beyond will also recognize the names of actors who starred in the original production of this show—Robert Preston, Lynn Redgrave and Jeff Goldblum. Later, this show was adapted for the stage by D.D. Brooke, and I discovered it several years ago.  As with all good scripts I find, I hold on to them and re-read them each year, waiting for the time  they best fit my returning and incoming students…and 2014 felt right for this show.

I have not directed a murder mystery play for over a decade. In fact, the last time was back in 2001 with our production of Clockwork. (Interesting side note:  one of my students in that show, Aaron Westrum, is now a high school drama teacher…and he encouraged one of his own students from Comanche to attend Iowa Central… and that student is a member of our cast. Feels like full circle to me…and it’s also a reminder that I’ve been doing this for a LONG time now!)

Because this mystery was written in the 80’s, we needed to return to this time period, especially since several elements to the mystery rely on the show being set in a time prior to cellphones and computers. I had quite a challenge teaching my students how to handle a rotary phone…and they also enjoyed playing with an actual “typewriter”. I found myself using phrases my parents once used on me: “Back in my day…” Perhaps that’s another reason I like the play…I re-visited my youth…and some of my misguided hairstyles!

So, I hope audiences come out in support of our cast and our Performing Arts Department. Our college and community support is one of Iowa Central’s greatest assets.