Stettler’s Community Hall was the funniest place in town last week as the Heartland Arts Troupe Society (HATS) put on its annual community theatre production.
“A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody” featured Malcolm Fischer, Sue Guba, Andrea Muhlbach and Colin Malin as the four leads, playing Matthew Perry, Julia Perry, Bunny Perry and Donald Baxter respectively. It ran from Nov. 16-19 at the Stettler Community Hall.
Every year, the Perry family hosts a New Year’s Eve party in their home, and prior to the arrival of guests, Julia and Matthew make their New Year’s resolutions.
Wanting to have a fun, bachelor’s life once again without the financially and socially painful agony of a divorce in the ’20s, Matthew vows to kill his wife before the year is out.
Julia laughs off her husband’s resolution, but when daughter Bunny announces she’s engaged to her boyfriend Donald and the wedding is set for New Year’s day, Julia makes her resolution to live through the year.
With people falling sick and dying throughout the year, it doesn’t take long for smart lawyer fiance Donald to realize something is afoot and he brings in a police detective.
The play goes through a year in the life of the Perry family, featuring multiple costume changes and a fun Halloween party – with Halloween costumes.
For Guba, who played matriarch Julia, having a chance to get on stage in Stettler was long overdue.
“I’ve been involved with theatre before in Red Deer and Castor,” she revealed. “I thought it was beyond time to take part in Stettler.”
She saw the call for actors and actresses in the paper and auditioned.
“I just love everything about (theatre),” she said. “It’s fun. I just enjoy being on stage, and it’s a good script – very funny.”
The rest of the cast included Eric Rahn as butler Burtram, Carson Ellis as detective Plotnick, and Dorothy Hebert and Dixie LaRose as maids.
“He’s kinda an idiot, but thinks he’s capable,” Ellis said of his character detective Plotnick. For Ellis, taking part in theatre was a return to a hobby he loves.
“I used to do it when I was a kid,” he explained. “I’d act in a few plays, then stop for a while because I’d be away for work, then act in a few more, then stop for a bit, and … on and on.”
Seeing the crowd burst into laughter at the jests and silly antics on stage makes Ellis love what he does even more, he said.
Behind the scenes, Jane Skocdopole directed and Jean Bischke, Becky Baltimore and Sue Stratulate produced. Costuming was handled by Sue and Andy Jones, while Greg Sylvester and Zack Desrosiers handled lighting and sound.
The sets were designed by Roe Desrosiers, and built by Jim Lynham. Lori Bischke painted the sets.
Behind the stage, Fran Pidgeon kept all in check as stage manager and Wayne Smith created props and sounds. The complicated and beautiful hairstyles of the 1920s were styled by Dixie.
“It’s an awesome group of actors to work with,” Skocdopole said. “They’re very professional.”
The dinners at the theatre was catered by Brenda’s Country Catering.