Right when playwright Sidney Bruhl is overdue for a hit show, he finds a chance to rise to the top once more, but this time with a few comically mysterious twists in Ira Levin’s play Deathtrap, which opens Friday, August 4, at The Wildish Community Theater in a production by the Not Ready for Retirement Players.
Directed by Chris Pinto, the play tells the story of Sidney Bruhl (Dan Pegoda), a playwright who is having a lull in his career and needs something to get him back on his feet. He receives a script from a former student, Clifford Anderson (David Arnold), and sees an opportunity to rise to success while his wife, Myra (Storm Kennedy), encourages the two to collaborate. The show takes a turn when no one, not even a visiting psychic (Jen Ferro), realizes where the night will go. The cast also features Paul Rhoden as Porter Milgrim.
This is Pinto’s last show in Eugene before returning to Hawaii, where he grew up. He says when he was helping decide what shows to put on this season at the Wildish, he was searching for something with a great name that would lure audiences back to local theaters still emerging from the pandemic.
“So I just thought when you have a great game like that you try to catch people’s attention after a long hiatus from going and seeing theater,” Pinto says.
Getting everything ready for the set even meant taking chairs or tables from his own home to create a production that matched his vision, Pinto says. “But it hasn’t just been something that you could pull from your usual sources. We had to really scramble to find some things that are necessary.”
Pinto has been in the theater world in Eugene for quite some time and is deciding to end on a high and move back to Hawaii, where he can relax and maybe find some opportunities.
“Just perpetuating the idea that art needs to be done and what it really needs is a space, and that’s what the Wildish has provided for us — the opportunity to use their theater to continue this dream.”
Kennedy, who plays Myra, says this production has been one of her hardest performances, as she has yet to do a murder mystery in her career until now.
“There are those moments where you go, ‘Oh, my Lord, this is really hard,’ and then you go, ‘Oh, my Lord, I’m really having a great time, and this is gonna be so much fun to share with the audience,’” she says.
Kennedy says she is thrilled to be able to work with Pinto along with the rest of the cast and is looking forward to audiences seeing the visions they have all put together.
For both Pinto and Kennedy, being a part of local community theater has changed their lives, and they say now more than ever is the time to support local theater and the arts.
“I just think it’s crucial to have things like this to be able to be a part of and to be able to enjoy and support not just because I love it but because I’ve experienced what I’m hoping others will experience when they go to the theater and I think that’s why I do it,” Kennedy says about her love for the theater. ν