‘Any Number Can Die’ delightful comedy murder mystery

The plot thickens in a scene from “Any Number Can Die,” featuring from left, David Adlerstein, Katie Photo available for purchase

The plot thickens in a scene from “Any Number Can Die,” featuring from left, David Adlerstein, Katie Maxwell, Bobbi Ann Seward, Elizabeth Sisung, Judy Loftus, Steven Allen, Jeana Crozier, Royce Rolstad III and Tom Loughridge as Edgars, the butler, who did not do it.

BRIAN HUGHES
Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 01:45 PM.

The only bad thing about the Panhandle Players’ production of “Any Number Can Die” is that by the time you read this, it’s already had its weekend run and some of you missed it. That’s a shame because the witty send-up of 1920s murder mysteries was a wonderful evening of laughs and whodunit speculation.

Most enjoyable about Fred Carmichael’s 1960s hit is the audience is in on the joke from the very beginning. Under the steady hand of director Megan Lamb, all the requisite elements of an Agatha Christiesque tale are included.

Spooky house in the middle of nowhere: check. Crashing thunderstorm: check. Unreliable electrical service: check. Secret panels and passages: check. Suspicious servants: check. A diverse assembly for the reading of a will (at midnight, of course), including one or two red herrings: check. An indefatigable police inspector: check

The strength of the Panhandle Players’ production of “Any Number Can Die” lies both in Edward Aguiar’s gorgeous, superbly crafted set, which, complete with a plethora of secret panels, passages and peep holes is practically another character itself, and an eager cast breathing believability into familiar, cliché characters.

Community theatrefolk are sometimes called “actors by night.” During the day they have “real” jobs, so the performances you see on stage come from the heart. It’s when real estate agents, bankers and even newspaper editors unleash their inner muses, and in “Any Number,” the troupe let theirs run wild.

Particular kudos must go to retired barrister Henry Kozlowsky as hapless inspector Hannibal Hix on his first case, who pushes his inner Maxwell Smart up to but not quite over-the-top.

“Someone is not who he is but who he isn’t,” he wisely intones in mid-investigation.



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