Posted by Bruce Miller
It was a dark and stormy night, on stage and in the “real world,” as we kicked off the fall season at Barksdale Hanover Tavern with tonight’s opening of Deathtrap by Ira Levin. After directing last fall’s successful production of Agatha Christie’s whodunnit, The Mousetrap, John Moon returned to direct this fall’s thriller, Deathtrap. He's done a terrific job. We’ve yet to decide which trap will be used to ensnare John’s services for next season.
Screams and laughs accompanied all the flashes of lightning and claps of thunder as John’s talented cast kept things edgy until the final curtain. Michael Goodwin made a terrific Barksdale debut in the leading role of has-been playwright Sydney Bruhl. One of our nation’s finest actors, Mike has built a stellar career at Seattle Rep, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, Arena Stage in D. C., the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, the Long Wharf in New Haven, and the New York Shakespeare Festival under Joseph Papp. Broadway credits include A Patriot for Me, Cyrano, Ambassador, and a revival of Charley’s Aunt. TV credits include recurring roles on Dynasty, Falcon Crest, St. Elsewhere, McGyver and Matlock, among many others.
Christopher Evans returned from New York to rejoin his Barksdale family in the role of novice playwright Clifford Anderson. Chris appeared with us before in The Full Monty, Melissa Arctic, Fifth of July, and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. He even filled in for a week in the lead role of Paul Bratter in last year’s Barefoot in the Park.
Robin Arthur, Jacqueline Jones and ‘Rick Gray round out the cast of potential murderers and/or murderees. Robin is well remembered at Willow Lawn for her role as Vera Charles in Mame, and she counts among her Hanover Tavern credits everything from Nunsense to Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Jackie starred in Das Barbecu, the last show before the start of Barksdale’s ten-year hiatus from the Tavern in 1996, and Over the River and Through the Woods, one of the shows in the first season back at the Tavern in 2006. ‘Rick makes a point to come play with us every six years or so, having last appeared at Barksdale in my 2001 production of The Little Foxes at Willow Lawn.
Sharing in the Opening Night festivities were Barksdale Board members Rick Arenstein and Kevin Kilgore, and longtime supporters Roy Burgess and Ed Ramsey. Steve Moore and Derek Phipps, two of the poker playing pals from The Odd Couple, came back to experience life on the other side of the footlights. Chase Kniffen and his mom, Bev Kniffen, were overheard making book during intermission as to who on stage was and who wasn’t who or what they seemed to be. Brad Tuggle, our able stage manager, and Alex Whiteway, his weapon wielding assistant, hovered over the food tables at the post-show party, glad that their responsibilities had gone off without a hitch. Terrie Powers (my wife) beamed with pride as crowds of fans congratulated her on another fantastic set.
(From left to right: Michael Goodwin, 'Rick Gray, Brad Tuggle, Chris Evans, Jackie Jones, John Moon and Robin Arthur)
If you weren’t there for Opening, you have six weeks to get caught in the Deathtrap before it becomes just another scream in the night. After breaking all records as the longest-running thriller in Broadway history (5 years), Deathtrap promises to be a hot Barksdale ticket during this most haunting time of year.
It was a great Opening. Hope you’ll call 282-2620 for your tickets today!