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The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: John Bishop
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 80
Pub. Date: 1987
ISBN-10: 0822207923
ISBN-13: 9780822207924

About the Play:

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a full-length non-musical comedy thriller by John Bishop. A backers' audition for a new musical on a suburban estate turns deadly, with plenty of confusing murders and knotty plots to unravel. Poking antic fun at the more ridiculous aspects of "show biz" and the corny thrillers of Hollywood's heyday, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a non-stop barrage of laughter as those assembled (or at least those who aren't killed off) untangle the mystery of the "Stage Door Slasher".

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is not, in fact, a musical. It is an ingenious and wildly comic romp that spoofs the great murder mystery movies of the 1940s, leaving audience to wonder, whodunit? A wealthy patron of the arts has opened her New York mansion for a backer's audition. Two years earlier, the murder of three chorus girls by the notorious "Stage Door Slasher" resulted in a Broadway flop. Now, she has reunited the creative team and remaining cast in her library – where all is not safe and secure. The house is replete with sliding panels, secret passageways and a German maid who is apparently four different people – all of which figure diabolically in the comic mayhem which follows when the infamous "Slasher" makes his reappearance and strikes again – and again. As the composer, lyricist, actors and director prepare their performance, and a blizzard cuts off any possible retreat, bodies start to drop in plain sight, knives spring out of nowhere, masked figures drag their victims behind swivelling bookcases, and accusing fingers point in all directions. However, and with no thanks to the bumbling police inspector who snowshoes in to investigate, the mystery is solved in the nick of time and the "Slasher" unmasked – but not before the audience has been treated to a sidesplitting good time and a generous serving of the author's biting, satiric and refreshingly irreverent wit.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 enjoyed a long and critically hailed run both on and Off-Broadway. It was first performed in 1987 by the Circle Repertory Company at Sheridan Square Playhouse in New York City, later moving to Broadway at The Longacre Theatre. The show has become a popular choice for college, high school and community theatre productions.

Cast: 5 women, 5 men.

What people say:

"…a kind of crossbreeding of Charles Ludlam The Mystery of Irma Vep and Terrence McNally It's Only a Play seasoned with a soupcan of Noises Off." — New York Times

"…enormous fun…Its strength comes in part from the sheer diamond wit and diamante showbiz glitter of Bishop's writing. Even his corn is succulently served." — New York Post

"Bishop gives us a nakedly silly and relentlessly convoluted murder-mystery plot, with twist piled on twist till you have to give way and start laughing at the silliness…it's hugely enjoyable." — Village Voice

"The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is the intelligent person's kind of nonsense." — New York Magazine

About the Playwright:

John Bishop (1929-2006) was an American playwright and screenwriter. When Marshall W. Mason, founder of the acclaimed Off-Broadway Circle Repertory Company, saw a performance of The Trip Back Down, he invited John Bishop to become a member as both a writer and director. Circle Rep would become his artistic home for nearly 20 years, producing many of his plays. He later founded the Circle West theater company in Los Angeles. He also used his knowledge of and interest in male behaviour and police procedures to do rewrites on the big-budget thrillers Sliver, Primal Fear, Clear and Present Danger, and Beverly Hills Cop III.

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