Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Dance Party: Bad Day For Miss French

It's Friday, October 14th. That date mean anything to you? Other than the fact that it's, you know, today? There's a gang of us up at Olney Theatre for whom the date has real significance. Everybody involved with Witness for the Prosecution knows the date very, very well. On that date, wealthy spinster Miss Emily French was conked on the head with something called a cosh. I'm still not sure what a cosh is, even though I listen to the retelling of the murder 8 times a week, sitting in the courtroom, playing the oddly silent barrister, Mr. Brogan-Moore.

The coincidence of the date was noticed during rehearsal for our production. Not only does October 14th fall on a Friday this year, just as it does in the fictional world of Witness, but we are actually playing on that date. In honor of the spooky occurrence, a couple of our actors came up with a promotional gimmick to celebrate the day. It involves a raffle and a discount and other things which hold little interest for me, I've never seen a raffle go smoothly at a theatrical performance. I'm told that, in one very unfortunate case, the legendary Dorothy Loudon was involved in a show on Broadway which raffled off a live chicken at each performance. Nonetheless, I am still intrigued by the cosmic symmetry involved with performing on this special, murderous day.

So, this week's Dance Party concerns murder. And who else to entertain us than the great Betty Hutton? She graced these pages a couple of years ago, so it's time we revisit the old gal. One of her signature comic tunes, appropriately enough, is called "Murder, He Says." It was written by the great Frank Loesser, as were so many of Hutton's famous songs. I hope I'll be forgiven for presenting it here; despite it's title, it has absolutely nothing to do with the act of homicide. But it's a hoot, and Hutton's a hoot, and so why not?