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Life Is A Game And ‘The Game’s Afoot’

By Elizabeth Young, Newtown Bee


NEW MILFORD — Nothing says Merry Christmas like a good old fashioned, hilariously funny murder-mystery. Theatreworks New Milford's holiday offering of Ken Ludwig's The Game's Afoot or Holmes for the Holidays is just that. Elaborately set in a grand mansion style country home on the Connecticut River, this riotous farce is good old fashioned fun, fun, fun.

William Gillette, played by Charles Schoenfeld, is a prim and somewhat delusional actor starring on Broadway in a long running production of his own creation. Gillette embodies the iconic British detective Sherlock Holmes. Criminal activity in the opening scene is just enough to set the game afoot.

Gillette's fellow thespians, Felix and Madge Geisel (Frank Arcaro and M.J. Hartell), serve as family, colleagues and suspects.  Reesa Roccapriore plays actress Aggie Wheeler, the ingénue, love interest of Holmes and GiLlette, yet she marries herself off to handsome, smug, cad Simon Bright (James Hipp). This collection of pretenders meet for a Christmas Eve celebration in the home of Gillette's crazy like a fox mother, the doddering Martha Gillette, complete with tiara, played by Mary Wilson.

They are joined by, of all things, a saucy, manipulative and insulting theatre critic, Daria Chase (Robyn Maitland). This clan of Keystone Kops, led by gadget master Gillette, in turns celebrates and sleuths to uncover the identity of the perpetrator of crimes as they unfold. They are aided by Inspector Goring (Janice Connor), the quintessential bumbling detective with a penchant for acting.

Not wanting to give away the twists and turns that keep the audience engaged throughout, suffice to say the actors are having such a jolly time with the piece, the audience was completely caught up in the enthusiasm.

This entire cast shines. Charles Schoenfeld's Gillette/Holmes is just the right blend of proper and mischievous. You never know what he is up to, but he delights so in his machinations he totally nails it. Frank Arcaro's Felix is the perfect accessory for the scheming Gillette, and he energetically plays along. James Hipp is subtle and charming.

The female actors are nothing short of amazing. Each and every one of them imbues their character with comedic craft that is astounding and outrageously entertaining.
Director Glenn R. Couture hit the jackpot with this cast and he made excellent use of his windfall. 

The set, designed by Richard Pettibone, Scott Wyshynski and Glenn R. Couture, enhances the mysterious yet elegant themes, complete with wall sconces, old tomes, framed photos, weaponry and moving parts. 

This is not a joke, it is a game, and "life is the most glorious game," according to Gillette. And who does not love a game, particularly one that keeps you guessing and laughing until the end? Take a turn.

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