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Troupe presents ‘Dial M for Murder’

Thriller runs Oct. 10-13

By Scott Bellile

The Wolf River Theatrical Troupe will take audiences’ minds on a wild ride in time for Halloween with “Dial M for Murder.”

Director Michael Laskowski said Frederick Knott’s classic play is a great mystery thriller that does not rely on blood, gore or “boos” for scares.

“It’s very psychological,” Laskowski said.

“Dial M for Murder” runs for four days, Wednesday, Oct. 10 through Saturday, Oct. 13. Shows start at 7 p.m. each night along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Oct. 13.

All performances take place at the Real Opportunities Outreach building, 304 St. John’s Place, New London. To reserve tickets, call Judy McDaniel at 920-982-6060.

Knott premiered “Dial M for Murder” in England in 1952 and rewrote his script into a 1954 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

The story follows former tennis star Tony Wendice (Andrew Schmidt), who realizes now that his career is over, his rich wife Margot Wendice (Sommer Johnson-Loar) does not love him anymore.

Fearing he will lose her and thus his own lavish lifestyle, and fuming over her extramarital affair with Max (Jesse Tubeszewski), Tony opts to have her murdered so he can secure his inheritance.

Tony blackmails an old schoolmate, Captain Lesgate (Mike Doss), into carrying out the deed. But Tony’s plan backfires when Margot kills Lesgate in self-defense.

Tony then pivots his strategy to getting Margot convicted and sentenced to death in the killing of Lesgate.

The audience experiences a race against the clock as Max and Inspector Hubbard (Brad Dokken) scramble to prove Margot’s innocence before she is executed.

“And the thing is that Tony is usually one step ahead of everybody,” Laskowski said. “Tony is a very smart man.”

Johnson-Loar of Menasha, who plays Margot, said this play is not a “whodunit” because audiences know early on that Tony is guilty. Rather, the mystery lies in whether Tony will get away with his crimes.

Thanks in part to Laskowski’s “epic” directing and attention to perfect timing, Johnson-Loar said the thriller whirls in many directions and leaves surprised audiences gripping their seats.

“You end up just absolutely hating Tony in this show,” Johnson-Loar added. “And he’s such an arrogant character. He never stops talking about himself, and it’s no wonder Margot had an affair with a younger, shorter-winded man.”

In Johnson-Loar’s 20 years of acting, Margot has become her favorite role. Margot’s affair, her annoyance toward her husband and an “uncomfortable” strangling scene with Lesgate all add up to an “actor’s dream,” Johnson-Loar said.

This is Laskowski’s second time directing “Dial M for Murder.” His first was an outdoor production by Neenah’s Riverside Players in 2009.

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