Whodunnit? ‘Murdered to Death’ opens at Valhalla Tahoe

Inspector Platt (Chris Taylor) make a point with Constable Tompkins (Brandon McCarthy) in “Murdered to Death,” which will be performed at the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre.

The play’s the thing at Valhalla’s Boathouse Theater.

“Murdered to Death” will be performed June 30-July 3 and July 6-9. Two of the shows already have sold out and another has just three tickets remaining, so it doesn’t take an astute sleuth to conclude that a lot of people want to know “whodunnit.”

“The cool thing about it is that it’s a classic Agatha Christie mystery,” Director David Hamilton said. “There are different leads, different directions. Anybody could have done it.”

The cast includes several longtime Tahoe thespians, doubtlessly eager to return to the stage. “Murdered to Death” was to be performed in 2020, the year theaters went dark. Each member had been vaccinated by April 2021, when rehearsals began.

Written by Peter Gordon, the play is set in England 1936. Each character is British, save for a shady French art dealer, Pierre Marceau, played by Bob Neidermeier.

“They are as British as our actors’ accents can make them,” Hamilton said.

Chris Taylor has the role of Inspector Platt, who has a penchant for the malaprop.

“He adds an element of comedy,” Hamilton said. “The Platt character is a British version of Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling detective. But there’s other humor throughout.”

As the title suggests, the mystery involves a murder, and perhaps not just one.

Diane Evans plays the role of Mildred, the moderately wealthy owner of the Bagshot House, where the drawing room scene is set. Mildred’s niece is, in fact, Evans’ daughter, Maddie, a second-year theater student at San Jose State University.

Dave Anderson is the pedantic and rather creepy butler. Brandon McCarthy is an alacritous village Bobbie. Frank Riley and Shelly McCarty play the roles of the hubristic Colonel Craddock and his acerbic wife. Pam Taylor’s character is a dilettante detective – Joan Maple — in the vein of Miss Marple. Ashley Wallick plays an attractive, young high-society woman, Elizabeth Hartley-Hungtinton, a name edited from the original Hartley-Trumpington.

In other theater news, Hamilton and his associates have written a play which could debut after Thanksgiving. “A Guilty Christmas” is a wintertime version of the Lake Tahoe-themed “Guilty Pleasures,” which was performed from 2002 to around 2013.

The Valhalla Tahoe concert series held Wednesday afternoons on the Grand Lawn include Achilles Wheel on July 21, The Tom Rhodes Band on July 28, Grateful Bluegrass Boys on Aug. 11, and Earles of Newton on Aug. 18. The Valhalla Boathouse Theater 25th Anniversary Celebration on Sept. 6 features Dirty Cello & Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan.

  • Murdered to Death
    Valhalla Boathouse Theatre
    South Lake Tahoe
  • 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, June 30-July 3 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, July 6-9
  • Tickets: $20 and $30 LINK
  • Note: Unvaccinated audience members are requested to wear a mask. The audience will be limited to 50 percent capacity, 80.
Proprietor Mildred (Diane Evans) and her pedantic butler Bunting (Dave Anderson).

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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