MURDER AMONG FRIENDS

by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
May will be a month of mystery at the Alhambra, as Bob Barry’s comedy “Murder Among Friends” will be on the boards until June 9 at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville. Call 641-1212 for reservations and information.
The Alhambra continues to bring stars to their intimate stage and this show features a repeat visit by one of the most popular performers with the return of Loretta Swit, whose appearance in 2010 set an attendance record for the theatre. And while the title of the play sounds somewhat ominous and the script does have large doses of suspense, this lighthearted murder mystery will leave you laughing.
The plot revolves around a very rich woman, the fifteenth richest woman in America, Angela Forrester (Loretta Swit) who is married to Palmer (Tony Lawson), an accomplished but vain and self-centered Broadway actor. From the get-go we learn that Angela is in love with her husband’s agent, the very young and very good looking Ted Cotton (Sean Coughlin). They plan to murder Palmer so they can marry. Now at this point we normally would give you a bit more information about the plot, but in this case anything else would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say that playwright Barry has loaded his comedy with many twists and turns and surprises.
Joining the original three cast members at a New Year’s Eve party at the Palmers is Marshall, (David Titus) an elderly Broadway producer, and his young, very attractive but ditzy wife Gert (Krista Severeid). One final character is added to the mix of mayhem by David Marmanillo; we will leave his role for you to discover as you enjoy this intriguing who-done-it.
The real attraction is, of course, Loretta Swit, a multi-award winning actress on television who has also appeared in films and on stages throughout the US, including on Broadway. Many of the audience recall her iconic appearance as Major Houlihan on the TV series “M*A*S*H”. Ms. Swit is a very fine comedic actress and “Murder Among Friends” gives her ample opportunity to display her talents. In addition to the many credits listed in the Alhambra playbill, she has frequently appeared on stage in a performance as Eleanor Roosevelt in a one-woman show. It has been well received and we know Jacksonville has many history buffs who would love to see it locally. The Alhambra is dark on Mondays, and this would be a wonderful added event.
This very talented and capable cast has an absolutely gorgeous set to work on. Scenic Designer Dave Dionne has captured the elegance of a spacious and expansive New York Grammercy duplex, with black and white flooring and tasteful uncluttered furnishings. Costumes include elegant formal wear, with tuxedoes and dramatic red gowns.
The Alhambra Theatre recently won a Best Dining Destination from Jacksonville Magazine. Congratulations!! Over the years, we have been writing that the Alhambra is one of the best entertainment values in North Florida. It is even truer today with excellent gourmet meal selections by Executive Chef DeJuan Roy and top notch entertainment at a price you would pay for just a meal at one of the higher end restaurants. The food selections for this show are outstanding and you can check out what is available by calling or visiting alhambrajax.com. The generous portions served may be too much for light eaters, so don’t be shy about asking the wait staff for a to-go box.
The Friday Gala nights for the opening of each show at the Alhambra are becoming more and more popular. There is always a new surprise for patrons, and this show featured an hors d’oeuvre of shrimp over cheese grits served in a cocktail glass. It was absolutely delicious.
Loretta Swit likes Jacksonville and Jacksonville obviously likes her; tickets for “Murder Among Friends” are selling fast. Don’t miss it.

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