By Lauren Takores
WALLINGFORD — The Lyman Hall High School winter play opens tonight, a chance for students to expand their education through entertainment.
"But Why Bump Off Barnaby?" — a 1981 mystery farce by playwright Rick Abbot — pokes fun at Agatha Christie-style detective stories.
Set in 1940s England, Barnaby Folcey is murdered at his rich uncle’s mansion during a party. The other guests — including a movie star, family governess and deaf aristocrat — realize that while Barnaby had reasons to want each of them dead, none of them had a motive to murder Barnaby.
The play runs 7 p.m. tonight and Friday. Tickets are $10 at the door. The run time is approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes, with two 10-minute intermissions.
Kellie Kennedy, English and theater teacher, said her students help choose the play, coming after school to sift through about 20 plays Kennedy picked out.
They narrowed it down to their top three choices, and then Kennedy made the final decision, she said.
“It’s just fun and the kids can kind of be silly,” she said.
There are 10 students in the cast and eight in the crew. Kennedy’s family helped build the richly decorated set and costume the kids, complete with 1940s hair and period attire.
Sophomore Peace Lopez, 15, plays Barnsy the old governess. She learned mistakes are OK, even helpful.
“Messing up is the best thing that we can do,” she said, “because it changes the show drastically. We’ve been able to make so many improvements to the show because we messed up.”
Junior Gregory Hernandez, 16, plays Medkins the butler. He feels he has improved his communication skills.
“This whole entire play really brought out in me a side where I feel more outgoing,” he said, “and now I can connect more with (my peers), and that creates a really good chemistry onstage.”
Senior Dakota Russell, 17, plays Jeff Barnett, a police reporter. He said he auditioned after his experience in Unified Theater, an after-school inclusive theater group for students of all abilities.
“At the beginning of this, I didn’t say a word at all,” he said. “Towards the end of it, I grew to love all of these kids. These have all become my best friends.”
Kennedy said that the entire cast has already signed up for Lyman Hall’s spring musical, “Chicago.”