The director of “Deathtrap,” the latest production from Lincoln City’s Theatre West, is hoping enough time has passed since it was a hot new play that the plot twists will come as a surprise.
“I’m hoping no one will tell the ending because that’s a big part of the fun,” said Jackie Tasker, who is new to Theatre West but not to theater. “It won four Tonys in the late ‘70s, one for best play, which is one of the reasons I chose it.”
The murder mystery, written by Ira Levin, was turned into a movie starring Michael Kane and Diane Canon in 1982, but you might want to wait to stream it until after you’ve seen the local production.
“There are actually twists and turns through the whole play,” Tasker said. “Every time you think you know where it’s going, it goes somewhere else.”
The plot, loosely told, is about a formerly successful but now frustrated playwright, Sidney Bruhl, who goes to extremes when he hits a long patch of writer’s block.
“What I’m loving about this production is that when I direct, I tell my actors that I don’t ever want to see any acting on stage,” she said. “I want you to be the character, and they are doing it. Every character is so different and they are coming through for me like gangbusters, and I’m pretty picky.”
Starring as Sidney Bruhl and his wife Myra are Paul McCully and Robin Kirsch. Mitchell Mhyr plays Clifford Anderson, a budding playwright who might have written the next hit murder mystery. Kevin Fanter is Porter Milgrim, a meddling attorney. Theatre West newcomer Patricia Canton, who has a long history of theater work in Los Angeles, plays the Bruhls’ renter Helga Ten Dorp, who might or might not be psychic.
“Patricia’s done a lot of stage acting and she’s very, very good,” Tasker said. “She hadn’t acted in a while so she wasn’t sure if she wanted to do it but I wore her down.”
Tasker, originally from Scottdale, Arizona, spent about 13 years involved with the Albany Civic Theater both on the stage and behind the scenes.
“It is actually a very good theater that attracts impressive talent,” she said. “At least six of the actors that were there when I was went on to New York, although for the record, some of them came back.”
Tasker’s on-stage specialties were musicals like “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and she often had starring roles.
“I got to belt out lots of the songs which is so fun but my voice is not where it used to be anymore,” she said. “I would like to act again but not sing; I know when to quit.”
After moving to Lincoln City roughly three years ago, Tasker, a mental health specialist by profession, tried to ignore the call of the theater but finally gave in.
“I contacted the theater and asked how I could get involved and was invited to come to a board meeting,” she said. “It didn’t take long before I was offered the chance to direct. At first, I had low expectations because I couldn’t even cast my first attempt, but once I started working with this play and this cast I changed my expectations. I got to work with people like Robin that have been with this theater for a while. She actually told me how impressed she is with everyone on the show, which says a lot because she is so talented and experienced. So now, I’m very excited and I can’t wait for people to get to see what I’ve been seeing.”
“Deathtrap” will run from Thursday, Oct. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 17, with performances at 7:30 pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and one matinée performance at 2 pm on Sunday, Nov. 17. All performances take place at the Lincoln City Cultural Center, 540 NE Hwy. 101.
Tickets, $15 for adults and $13 for seniors or students, are available at www.lincolncity-culturalcenter.org or by calling 541-994-9994.