Cast serves up Laughter ‘piping hot’ at Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine

Now we all know who the killer is! – It’s a tense moment at the Theatre Guild Dinner meant to honour the very late Mrs. Eleanor Van Huesen, but with Inspector Bungler in charge, and all the suspects gathered in one spot, surely the murderer will be revealed. Playing to a sold-out crowd at the Matilda Hall, the cast of Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine, directed by Wendy Gibb, won a standing ovation from the audience and made over $6,000 for Iroquois United Church. The funds will help reduce the Church’s 2017 deficit. In the front row, left to right are Grace Barkley, Glenn Swerdfeger, Cheryl O’Duffy-Staye, Steve Wilson and Terrie Chedore. In the back row are Donna Swank, Robert Thompson, Barry Fawcett, Doug Merkley and Margaret Swerdfeger. (The Leader/ Gibb photo).

DIXON’S CORNERS – It seems that someone really did do in the insufferable Mrs. Eleanor Van Huesen at the Theatre Guild dinner party!

She did.

And that was only one of the hilarious revelations coming to light during the Iroquois United Church fundraiser, which was held in the beautifully decorated Matilda Hall on Saturday, April
22, 2017.

The dinner theatre production, Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine by Michael Druce, and directed by Wendy Gibb, played to a Hall packed to capacity. Diners savoured a delicious roast pork dinner (served by Ashley Lewis and Norma Smith and staff), then enjoyed dessert and comedy served up in generous portions throughout the rest of the gala evening.

The original idea of dinner theatre as a fundraiser for the United Church grew out of suggestions brought forward earlier in the year by a committee with the Iroquois-Matilda Pastoral charge.

Tickets for the one night only show were sold out in two weeks.

Produced by Margaret Swerdfeger, Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine, featured a cast of 11, all of them volunteers, who put in weeks of rehearsal in preparation for the show. According to an enthusiastic audience, they definitely created some memorable characters.

As the fiery and obnoxious Chef Ramon (“I don’t do cans!”), Steve Wilson managed to accuse Cast serves up Laughter ‘piping hot’ at Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine Now we all know who the killer is! excluding the premier of Ontario.

Too often the target of Chef’s wrath was the hapless Tommy Knackers, hilariously and unexpectedly characterized by Cheryl O’Duffy-Staye, complete with tattoos, spiky hair and a badly running nose.

“Sweet, innocent Darby” was played by Grace Barkley: Grace’s Darby, due to inherit millions in Grandma’s will, was definitely a teenager with “two minds” about both murder and cake baking.

However, Desmond and Hadley Kennedy, Mrs. VanHuesen’s nephew and his wife, were neverof two minds in the play.

They wanted Auntie’s money, period.

Played by Robert Thompson and Donna Swank, these two characters were both greedy and hilarious, especially when Desmond had to “speak” for his late aunt, and Hadley was forced to confront her Vegas showgirl past.

And speaking of showgirls, Dr. Heinrich Rank, veterinarian, as portrayed by Glenn Swerdfeger, clearly proved (to a howling audience) that he knew how to sashay his way around a corpse – even one suffering from extreme postmortem flatulence.

Definitely not innocent until proven guilty were Margaret Swerdfeger’s secretary, Maggie, and Doug Merkley’s Nick Quartermaine.

While he might just have been Eleanor’s “boy toy”, and a frustrated theatre guild director with Adonis issues, she was a woman scorned, a jealous assistant who apparently fancied a little strangulation.

No one was ever completely sure who Nora Du Mond, played by Terrie Chedore, really was – aunt, mother, sister, daughter, or basically just some demented woman packing a gun.

Still, the audience did learn in this play that it was best to keep polo ponies away from her. Eleanor Van Huesen herself, flamboyantly (and bravely) played by Margaret Whisselle, turned out to be a woman truly worthy of murder.

From her entrance in diamonds, to her exit on gurney, “Eleanor” managed to offend virtually everyone on stage, to say nothing of several unsuspecting audience members as well.

Putting all the clues together,carefully weighing the evidence, noting all the witness testimonies, Barry Fawcett’s outrageous Inspector Bungler brilliantly – failed to find the killer.

What this Bungler did demonstrate, however, was his phenomenal ability to constantly miss the point, his talent for arresting all the wrong people and an amazing ability to consume cheesecake.

And a cameo by David Lapier, halfway through the play, nearly brought the house down.

This was a hard-working cast: these actors earned the standing ovation the audience gave them at the end of the evening.

Also earning a standing ovation were the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine a success.

Dianne Fawcett bravely grappled with the challenges of prompter, while Anne Parry was a great “waitress.” Dwight and Helder of Aura Salon came through with hair and makeup and great ideas for the play.

Nancy Bresnahan rose to the musical challenges while Bill MacDonald was a genial MC. Many others contributed to a great evening of dinner theatre.

The fundraiser brought in over $6,000 for Iroquois United Church.

Committee member Lindsay Wilson said that “Iroquois United Church is relieved and grateful for the support of the community in helping us to significantly reduce the church’s sizable 2017 financial deficit.”

Producer Margaret Swerdfeger is also overwhelmed at the community interest in the show.

“We are grateful to not only our guests but to all who gave many hours to help make our fundraiser, Dinner At Eight, Dead By Nine, a success.”

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