Production a huge success for Lions

The villain finally unmasked in Madam’s Been Murdered, Tea Will Be Late – To the relief of his potential victims, and the loud laughter of the audiences, the evil Dr. Thorndyke (aka Brian Speer) was finally revealed in the final act of the Iroquois-Matilda Lions Club’s hilarious production of Pat Cook’s comic whodunit. The play, which ran from April 19-21 at Upper Canada Playhouse, drew huge crowds, and raised in excess of $20,000 for the club, funds which will be used to support Lions charities and community events and projects. With a versatile cast of 12 dedicated and very talented actors, the show was deemed an “unqualified success” by all those lucky enough to see it. Bobby Totter (r), played by Jim Mustard, unmasked the bogus “ghost monk”, while Old MacDonald, Bill Rumble, looked suitably impressed. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – The Iroquois-Matilda Lions club “took the theatre world by storm” again, with their rip-roaring production of Pat Cook’s whodunit farce, Madam’s Been Murdered, Tea Will Be Late.

Three of the four productions of the comedy, staged at Upper Canada Playhouse April 19-21, were completely sold out.

The 12 members of the cast, all club members or spouses, have been in rehearsals for the play, under director Wendy Gibb, since January. Hours of volunteer time and effort went into this play and judging by audience comments, the results were well worth it.

A hilarious comedy set in decaying Houndstooth Manor, lost in the English moors, the plot of Madam’s Been Murdered revolved around some unexpected murders, and one “ectoplasmic” house resident, the ghost of Sir Jeffrey ‘the Dense’ Totter, strung up two centuries earlier for ox stealing.

Among those staying at Houndstooth over a “dark and stormy weekend” of murder and mayhem, were the daffy American honey-mooners, a teacher whose students “nailed her up in a keg”, and the decidedly long-winded veteran, Major Armbrewster.

When the shady Dr. Thorndyke, the gold-digging next door neighbour, Katie Balfour, a very fishy Old Jagmaster and the latest black sheep heir to the estate, Master Bobby Totter, also appeared at the Manor, the scene was certainly set for comic chaos.

At least the regular residents of Houndstooth, a bewildered Lady Fenster, the stiff as starch butler, Epsworth, Old MacDonald “who could be replaced by a rake” and the rolling pin wielding cook, Madge, should have been able to take a ghost and a murder or two in stride. Or should they?

By the time Inspector Milo of Scotland Yard arrived on the scene, why it was getting necessary to stack the bodies “like kindling.”

Oh, did we mention the meat cleaver wielding monks apparently dashing about the halls in sudden black-outs?

Just a typical weekend in the English countryside!

And a laughter-filled evening for the enthusiastic audiences.

The talented and very versatile cast was made up of Margaret Swerdfeger, Steve Wilson, Glenn Swerdfeger, Erica Scott, Jim Mustard, Margaret Johnston, Donna Swank, Barry Fawcett, Reina DeJong, Bill Rumble, Brian Speer and Rick Mackenzie.

The whole show was produced by Lions Brian Speer and Barry Fawcett.

Lion Dick Piché calmly handled the prompter’s chair while Jan Mustard and Diane Fawcett coped with the challenges of stage management duties.

The striking costumes and make-up and wigs were created by Dwight and Helder of Aura Salon.

The extraordinary Tudor set was designed by John Thompson, UCP, and built in the Playhouse workshop by Lion Jim Locke and his Lions crew.

The show was expertly lit by Playhouse newcomer Jason Jennings.

Club members handled all the backstage and front of house arrangements for the play.

Once again, Donnie Bowes and all the staff at Upper Canada Playhouse made the Lions very welcome in the theatre, offering up expertise and advice that helped the production out enormously.

Madam’s Been Murdered, Tea Will Be Late is the 19th Iroquois-Matilda Lions theatrical presentation over a period of 35 years: all the shows have been directed by Wendy Gibb.

Producer Barry Fawcett points out that all of the money raised through these biannual Iroquois-Matilda Lions club theatre productions is put right back into the South Dundas community.

The Lions were also grateful for the support this year of Scotiabank, whose generous matching funds program brought in $5,000.

“This has been a very successful production,” said Barry Fawcett. “Expenses are still being settled, but the play should bring in in excess of $20,000 which will all be put back into the community.”