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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Game and Gifted Cast and Direction Keep
Something's Afoot Alive and Kickin' at Taproot

Something's Afoot
Natalie Anne Moe and Ian Lindsay
I must be honest and say that the first time I saw a production of the wobbly and short-lived Off-Broadway musical Something's Afoot about a decade ago, I kind of vowed it would be the last time I would see it. With a tepid book and score by James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach, and additional music by Ed Linderman, this rip-off of everything from Agatha Christie to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and lesser mystery manufacturers) needs a steadfast and sterling cast and a director who will give it real style and pace. Well, it has just that, what with Scott Nolte's madcap yet not overdone direction and a cast laden with many familiar and steadfast Seattle talents. They make it no mystery why even the skeptical audience member like myself walks out of Taproot Theatre with a grin, humming a trace of a tune called "(Tiny Little) Dinghy."

The paper thin plot has a disparate group of guests mixing in with the staff at country estate where they are disposed of in a not even thinly veiled tip of the hat to Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" known on stage and screen as Ten Little Indians. Who dies? And why?? Who cares? Director Nolte keeps things hopping and only mildly hammy, and his cast romp through their stereotyped characters singing songs that run the "sounds like" gamut from British music Hall to Coward and Porter parody.

Jenny Cross skillfully plays way over her age as the always intrusive and occasionally ingenious Miss Tweed (think Miss Marple with a dash of Jessica Fletcher). Pat Sibley brings her special brand of potty old grand dame sparklingly back to Seattle audiences as the secretive Lady Grace, and Natalie Moe sings with a sparkling soprano and flits about perfectly as the obligatory ingénue Hope, while the good (if wimpy) lad and the bad cad in her life are played with musical comedy panache by Ian Lindsay (Geoffrey) and limber Ryan Childers (Nigel). Tim Tully skillfully chews scenery as houseman Flint (he of the "Dinghy" song) and the rest of the company, several of them bumped off early on, boasts no weak links.

Choreographer Christy McNeil conjures up some fleet footed steps that the cast of ten execute well on the tiny Taproot stage, and Edd Key's solid musical direction and an able quartet of musicians do the score far better than it deserves. All technical credits, sharp Scenic and Sound Design by Mark Lund, attractive Costume Design by Sarah Burch Gordon and laudable Lighting Design by Andrew Duff contribute to a veritable midsummer night's feast of fun. And that's all he wrote!

Something's Afoot recently extended and now runs through August 27, 2011, at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85th in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. For tickets and other information visit www.taproottheatre.org.


Photo: Photo by Erik Stuhaug



- David Edward Hughes



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