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Bag & Baggage Presents The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Murder At Checkmate Manor @ The Vault Theatre | Portland 2017 Halloween Comedy Theater

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Murder At Checkmate Manor
More info: bagnbaggage.org

It’s simple, really.

Four small town British community theatre actresses and one doddering stage manager are touring the United States with a production of an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, Murder At Checkmate Manor, as part of the United Kingdom’s “Former Colony Cultural Re-Education Program.” Simple, right? Well…there is a twist…

The “ladies” of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild’s Dramatic Society are actually men in drag, and although their hearts are filled with a passion for a refined British style acting, they are just…well, terrible.

Following our smash hit production of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild’s Dramatic Society’s Production Of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Bag&Baggage brings the hilariously horrific troupe of awful actors to The Vault this Halloween for The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild’s Dramatic Society’s Murder At Checkmate Manor by Walter Zerling Jr. and David McGillvrary, directed by Scott Palmer.

“These shows are, in a word, hilarious,” says Palmer. “Essentially, they are a kind of Monty Python-style spoof of English community theatres. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. It is one catastrophe after another, all while the ladies of Farndale desperately try to get the train back on the tracks.”

B&B’s previous production of TFAHETGDS’s A Christmas Carol was described as “bad theatre at its hilarious best” by The Portland Monthly, and “think Downton Abbey meets The Three Stooges in drag” by The Oregonian. The Portland Tribune said the show was “an evening of brazen theatrical success.”

Murder At Checkmate Manor follows (for the most part) the plot of Agatha Christie’s classic’s And Then There Were None; the members of an English noble family all arrive a remote country estate, Checkmate Manor, for the reading of Lord Bishop’s last will and testament and suddenly find all of the beneficiaries dropping like flies before the will can be read.

In the meanwhile, the cast have lost a dog, the set keeps falling apart, the light and sound guy is falling asleep, and the cast have to do a fashion show to raise money for their costume designer’s emergency hard surgery.

Just another night at a Farndale show!

Patrick Spike, who reprises his role as the Dramatic Guild’s leader Mrs. Phoebe Reece, said, “There are very few roles that offer actors this kind of challenge. To play terrible actors really well is very difficult, and to do so in six inch heels and a massive wig is even harder. In the end, the Farndale shows are just an enormous amount of fun for the actors and the audience.”

Joining Spike are Jeremy Sloan (previously seen as Gilroy Gildersleeve in B&B’s Christmas-time radio show spoofs) as Mercedes Blower, Norman Wilson (last seen with B&B in Rough Crossing) as Thelma Greenwood, B&B Resident Actor Arianne Jacques as Gordon the stage manager, and B&B’s newcomer Tyler Buswell as Felicity Fortesque. Costumes are designed by Melissa Heller, Scenic design by Megan Wilkerson, and Lighting design by Jim Ricks-White. Cassie Greer, B&B’s Associate Artistic Director, will assistant direct the show and also provide dialect coaching.

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