ARTS

You heard what I heard

Pat Topping and Franceine Gregory

NOT only has Plantagenet Players regular Roxanne Mills penned her first play since joining the group in 2005, but she may have also created a whole new genre for theatre.

The murder-mystery/ comedy/musical “You Heard What I Heard” opens with its world-premiere this Friday in Mount Barker and promises to deliver the most baffling and unusual murder mystery of the year.

Mills said she was inspired to tackle her debut writing effort after working on the production of the feature film “Rams” that was shot in Mt Barker.

“I have always wished that I could make something that comes from my imagination,” she said, in the final frantic days before the opening night. “After speaking with the public relations coordinator on the “Rams” set, I decided to give it a go.

“It’s a delight to see my vision come alive. My Players family have been so supportive. They say you can’t choose your family, but I disagree with that sentiment.”

To lighten the load slightly, Mills called upon the vast talent of theatre compatriot Michelle Harris with the contribution of musical parodies for the production. Harris, a relative newcomer to Plantagenet Players, joined the group in 2013 and has been cast a number of different characters over the years including a nun, a twin (different sisters from different misters), a minister’s wife, and even a witch or two. She has also extended her service to the amateur theatre group with involvement on the other side of the curtain, including her role as coordinator of Kids Kompany, a little group of thespians aged between five and eight years old who meet weekly to work on their acting skills in a tech-free environment.

The pair have conceived what is best described as a cross between Cheers and The Singing Detective. “You Heard What I Heard” is the hardboiled story of Detective Danny Francis and Longmire, his longstanding sidekick, as they investigate the circumstances surrounding a body found in the local industrial estate.

Kurt Edward joins the cast as Detective Francis, the anti-hero in the production. “It’s a delight to work with Kurt,” Mills said. “He understands the character and has brought Detective Francis to life, just as I had written.” A graduate of Kids Kompany, Edwards last appeared in the Mt Barker Community College production of Legally Blonde. “Kristy Russell also appears on stage for the first time as avid news reporter Misty Newsman. Keen with the questions, and her phone always in hand, Kristy has captured the role as the investigative reporter perfectly,” Mills said. The production sees the return of regular performers Helen Jeffery, Pat Topping, Charmaine Gadenne, Jeff Drage, and Franceine Gregory, with costume design by Lorraine Linster and lights and sound expert, Ray Drage.

“You Heard What I Heard” will be performed at Plantagenet Players new home at the Mt Barker District Hall on Friday June 14, Saturday June 15, Friday June 21 and Saturday June 22. Part proceeds from the opening night will be donated to the Porongurup Community Association, to assist with its hall refurbishment. Tickets are selling like hot cakes at Mt Barker Scrap Shack.

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