‘A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody,” Detroit-based playwright Ron Bernas’s 2009 spoof on 1930s screwball comedy-mysteries, is the fun autumn opener for Off-Broadstreet Theater’s new season.
The hijinks start when a well-to-do husband — in order to be free from his marriage and not lose money in a divorce — makes a New Year’s resolution to kill his wife. The informed spouse, obviously, has other thoughts, and the play follows the couple’s game of cat-and-mouse and the ensuing complications — dead friends, a butler with a secret, a detective who thinks he’s the fictional detective Sam Spade, and more.
It is a play that combines physical humor and word play to create a world where everybody — with the exception of the detective — has a theory about what’s happening, and all of them — surprise — turn out to be wrong.
While the dialogue may not be Shakespeare, or even Noel Coward, the level of the acting by a cast of OBT veterans is high enough to keep the audience’s attention.
The performers are Sean Magnacca (the detective), who made his OBT debut in last summer’s production of “Curtains” and was more recently seen in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; Kyla Mostello Donnelly (wife), OBT’s “Merchant of Venice” and “Moon over the Brewery”; John Helmke (the husband), who made his OBT debut as Bassanio in the “Merchant of Venice”; Ally Hern (the daughter), a musical theater major at Rider University who made her OBT debut in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; Steve Decker (the butler), seen as Sherlock Holmes in OBT’s “The Golden Spy” and “A World at War”; and Robert Risch, a Rider University senior seen “I Love You Because,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Peg O’ My Heart.”
Off-Broadstreet producer Bob Thick also directs the show, keeping a clear eye on the fun while maintaining the playwright’s sleight-of-hand. Thick has also designed the set, a handsome study in a mansion. Ann Raymond designed the costumes and appears to have caught the production’s mood and seems to have had some fun.
A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody, Off-Broadstreet Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. Through Saturday, September 28, Friday and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Desserts served an hour before show. $27 to $31.50. 609-466-2766 or www.off-broadstreet.com.