Woodinville dramatists working their way to Nebraska

WHS drama by Jeff Switzer, staff reporter
Last November, Woodinville High's production of the murder-mystery farce The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop was chosen as one of the 10 plays from around the country to be featured main stage at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for the 1996 International Thespian Society's Festival.
   This invitation marks the seventh time that Woodinville High students have been asked to put on a production at the festival, but now it's time for the 25-member cast and crew to come up with the $35,000 to pay for the trip.
   To fund the trip, the students have two benefit shows of "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" in the works, set for Apr. 5 and 6. They're also planning a rummage sale, are marching in the All-Fools' Day Parade, and promoting a "Buy a Mile to Lincoln" fundraiser.
   While giving the opportunity to students to showcase their work, the festival also has workshops and seminars in acting, directing, design, and stagecraft, as well as auditions for scholarships before representatives from the top colleges in the country. Based on those auditions, two Woodinville graduates have received scholarships.

The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940
   In spite of the title, the play is not a musical--though Woodinville High has a long-time romance with musicals--but a comedy about people who do musicals.
   A failing comic, a drunken lyricist, a gay man, and a director on his way out are a few of the characters colliding on the elaborate stage of moving bookcases and trap doors.
   "The characters are absurd and stereotyped. I think that's the main selling point," said Darrell Olson, who plays the homosexual, Roger Hopewell.
   Olson went to the festival last year with Woodinville's production of Neil Simon's Rumors, and is anxious to go again. "We did an early show of Rumors and the audience exploded," Olson said. "We were famous for a whole week; it was the most exciting thing."
   Steve Marshall has heard all the hype about the festival and is willing to go to almost any lengths to get to Nebraska. "I hear all of these stories and I'll walk there if I have to," said Marshall, who plays an Irish cop.
   Donations to the "Buy a Mile to Lincoln" are tax-deductible and can be student-specific. Hjalmer Anderson, WHS drama director, can be reached for information at 489-6751.