Mystery and mirth: Our Town Players balance murder, comedy with new show

No matter what happened, the story just would not become clear.

Peter Knight didn’t know where his next novel should go. Every plot pathway came to a dead end. Nothing could break through mental doldrums.

Until a freak natural occurance brings his characters to life to take the murder-mystery from there.

That’s how the story begins in “Out of Sight, Out of Murder,” the newest production by Our Town Players. The play blends mystery and comedy into a hysterical journey loaded with twists and turns.

The cast and crew of the show have been working on the show since February, and debut it for the public on Friday. Being able to stage such a production in the spirit of “Clue” or other classic whodunits has been a delight for everyone involved, said Lauren Underwood, director of the performance.

“We started rehearsals two months ago, and I’m still laughing every time we run through the show,” she said.

“Out of Sight, Out of Murder” revolves around Knight, a writer in the process of penning a murder-mystery in an old mansion. On deadline and stressed out, he’s unsure of where the story goes next.

Fortutiously — or not, depending on your perspective — a freak lightning storm suddenly brings his characters to life: the siren, the butler, the innocent young woman, the older lady, the handsome hero and immoral maid.

“They basically tell Peter they’re there to help him finish the story,” Underwood said.

What unfolds is a real-life mystery, as the characters start getting murdered and everyone needs to figure out who the killer is.

But what sets the performance apart is that wit that flows through it. Everyone is self-aware that they’re a character; the old woman character mentions that she “used to work with Agatha Christie,” the famed mystery author.

As the play moves on, the audience learns that initial impressions of the characters are not what they seem.

“I love that each character has many layers to them. You get to know them little bit by little bit with each line,” said Amy Duncan, who plays Kay, the innocent young woman. “Every character has a motive to be the murderer or every reason to be murdered. You feel a connection with each one. I love that the play references so many different mysteries. We portray many clichés, but we are not what you think.”

Throughout the rehearsal process, cast members have thrown themselves into the roles, using their time together to nail the comic beats and timing such a show requires.

“It’s been fun to see everyone come together and expand on how to make it little bit funnier,” Underwood said. “It’s going to be really exciting and really bring everything to life once they realize that, even though we’ve heard these lines several times, once there’s people sitting in the audience and laugh for a few minutes, it will make it even more tight.”

Our Town Players is a community theater troupe supported through Franklin Parks and Recreation. The group was founded in the 1990s, and ever since has continued to present live theater to the public throughout the year.

“Out of Sight, Out of Murder” was originally supposed to be the troupe’s feature in the spring of 2020. The pandemic put it on pause, then canceled indefinitely. Like many arts groups, Our Town Players took a hiatus.

But in October, they were able to do a radio-style play. This will be their first traditional full-scale stage play in two years, Underwood said.

The play will be staged at the Active Adult Center in Franklin, opening Friday and continuing Saturday and Sunday. A second weekend of the performance will be held April 29 to May 1.

“We’re just really excited to get back out there and present this,” Underwood said.