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Cappies: Northwest's whodunit keeps audience guessing

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 16, 2012 - Northwest High School’s performance of “Any Number Can Die” entertained the masses and left its mark on many. This comical whodunit by Fred Carmichael focuses on “two competitive super sleuths, a lovely young heiress, her two handsome suitors, some wealthy socialites and spooky servants who gather in an isolated mansion to hear the reading of Cedric Russel’s will.” When, suddenly, the occupants of Raven’s Head begin dying, suspicions arise as to who the murderer is.

The show opens with the characters arriving at Raven’s Head. Roger Masters (Charles Pitchford) is a lawyer who will read the last will and testament of the deceased, Cedric Russel. Pitchford portrayed the facets of his character superbly. Other characters that stood out were Zenia (Audrey Lipsmire) the creepy housemaid, Celia Lathrop (Jody Woolsey), and Edgars (Jett Wallace). The individuals who stole the show, however, were Brandon Jassen and Michelle Brinkman, who portrayed detectives Hannibal Hix and Ernestine Wintergreen. Both Jassen and Brinkmen utilized comedic timing to their advantage, creating hilarious encounters between the two and with other characters. Both articulated each line and used body language that was appropriate for each situation.

Lights and sound were done quite well. Even though there seemed to be a slight hissing from the speakers at some times, the sound cues occurred precisely when they should. The stage was well lit, although there seemed to be a few dark spots at times. The spotlights seemed to turn on at random times and were often not aimed at the actor or actress who was the focal point in a scene. Scene changes were fluid with the curtain closing in-between scenes.

The set was superbly designed with many movable features, such as the sliding bookcases and passageways behind the paintings. Those features kept the audience guessing as to where someone or something might appear next.

This production of “Any Number Can Die” kept the audience both at the edge of their seats and in stitches. The students at Northwest High School who worked both on and offstage put a substantial amount of effort into making this play a masterpiece

Mario Meyer is a student at Bishop DuBourg High School. The Cappies program works with student writers who cover high school theatrical productions.

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