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'Le Chateau de Murder'

Westfield High thespians present murder mystery.

Westfield High theater students will present the mystery, "Le Chateau de Murder," Friday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the school theater.

Tickets are $5 and are available at the door; admission even includes dessert. For more information, call 703-488-6430. It's written and directed by senior theater-students Kevin Knickerbocker and Reaves McElveen.

"We've never done a murder mystery before and thought it would be fun to produce one before we graduate in June," said McElveen. "We're also both in the play," added Knickerbocker. "Reaves is the doctor and I'm the farmer."

THE PAIR created several, colorful characters who visit a spooky, old hotel — only to witness one murder after another. "The audience will enjoy trying to decide who the culprit is and will help create the ending," said McElveen. "'Le Chateau de Murder' will be performed in a cabaret-style setting, with the audience seated right on stage."

Student Kevin Pearson will host the event, and all the actors will be seasoned veterans of the Westfield stage — seniors who've been involved in the school's theater program, their whole four years. Besides its two writers, the thriller will also star students Derek Rommel, Joe Schumacher, Jon Lawlor, Megan Henry, Katy Duncan and Ashley Ford.

The story is about eight strangers who win a contest and go to a hotel called Le Chateau de Murder on an island off the coast of New Jersey. It's set around 1955 and is chock full of suspects who all have motive and opportunity to commit the murders.

"It's a farce, like the movie 'Clue' meets Agatha Christie's 'Ten Little Indians,'" said Knickerbocker. "One by one, people start to die, and they try to figure out who did it."

The characters are purposely stereotyped and over-the-top. They include a maid, foreign ambassador, young go-getter, doctor, farmer, retired general, crotchety old woman and, said Knickerbocker, "a saucy young floozy."

"It's going to be a fun thing," he added. "It's kind of a last hurrah for us all."

LAWLOR plays a young, ambitious man on vacation, and he's looking forward to it. "When people see [the play], they'll laugh," he said. "It's got quite a bit of comedy and will be a real crowd-pleaser."

Henry portrays a cranky, old woman. "She's the classic old lady with her cats and knitting," said Henry. "It's a really funny murder-mystery — not scary."

Schumacher has the role of the retired Gen. Waxley. "He claims he's participated in every war, but he's stretching the truth," said Schumacher. "He's essentially an eccentric, crazy, Col. Mustard. He prattles on a lot about his war experiences, but he's comical. I'll probably give him a proper, English accent like Winston Churchill."

He, too, believes the audience will love the play. "It's one of the most audience-friendly plays we'll do, all year," he said. "And it's a good opportunity to get introduced to a Westfield show. It's what we do best — straight-up comedy. And with all seniors participating, with lots of experience, we have a good, strong ensemble."