All’s fair in love and murder

PUHI — If the thought of bumping off an annoying loved one has crossed your mind, “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” is up your alley. Kaua‘i Community Players presents this “feel-good” play, which opens March 16 at Puhi Theatrical Warehouse for a three-week run.

KCP will also have a “pay what you can” preview 7 p.m. March 15.

“It’s a very funny play,” said Director Jeff Elkins. “I love the idea of a murder triangle as opposed to a love triangle. In this show, each of the cast members becomes — in his or her turn — a victim.”

The plot of “Murder” reads like a sitcom, except it’s four times as long, just as amusing and commercial-free. Arlene (Shauna Griffin) and Paul (Jack Alex) are stalled in a bad marriage. She a femme fatale who wants a divorce, and he’s a bore who doesn’t want to give it to her.

Arlene hatches a plan with her lover — Mitchell (Stephen Pinzer), a womanizing dentist — to kill her schmucko husband.

But feelings shift, and so do alliances, and before the play is over, each character is a target for murder.

“Murder” enjoyed a four-night run on Broadway in 1979 before it made its way to community playhouses across the country.

The script is penned by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark, who also wrote “Norman Is That You?,” “No Hard Feelings” and “Wally’s Cafe.”

While it may seem that a play that only ran for a handful performances can be classified as a dud, “Murder” has been popular with theater companies for more than three decades.

The plot of “Murder” unfolds in three acts, each set in a different room and holiday at Howard Johnson’s, a high-rise hotel.

Elkins, who recently starred in KCP’s production of “Dearly Beloved,” makes his directorial debut with KCP in “Murder.”

“Directing is really, really, really hard work,” Elkins said. “I have an immense amount of respect for people, like my first theater mentor Arnold Meister, who makes it look easy. It’s not. It’s not easy at all.”

This isn’t the first time Elkins has tackled “Murder.” He portrayed Mitchell in a community theater production and he uses that experience to channel into his KCP production.

“One of the reasons I chose the play is the fact that a small cast means each character is a lead role,” Elkins said.

Elkins takes a straightforward approach to this cheerfully absurd script, and the character of Arlene will keep audience members guessing. What is  she — misguided? Lovable? An evil genius?

Kudos to the set designer that transforms the Puhi Theatrical Warehouse into a high-rise hotel.

Want to go?

What: “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s”

When: 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays March 16-April 1. Preview  7 p.m. March 15.

Where: Puhi Theatrical Warehouse

Cost: $20 advance, $22 at the door, $18 for seniors, $15 for students and KCP members.

Details: www.kauaicommunity players.org, 245-7700.

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