Everett theater group brings back sleuths for third mystery

Grace Sharp is a retired high school English teacher. Doris Brooks is a retired nurse practitioner.

The close friends travel together, they argue and they always seem to find themselves involved homicidal, but darkly hilarious, situations.

Together they are the primary characters in the Grace and Doris murder mystery comedy series written for community theater by Everett authors Howard Voland and Keith McGregor.

The latest in this series, “Dressing for Murder” premieres Friday night with the Reunion Theatre Group at the Everett Music Hall at the Everett Mall.

McGregor directs “Dressing for Murder,” which follows “Murder Inn” and “Audition for Murder.” The previous plays had successful runs at Reunion Theatre, and “Murder Inn,” with its Halloween theme, was picked up and published by Samuel French, the New York City publisher of plays and musicals. In October 2013, there were more than a dozen productions of the play around the country, plus one in Canada, McGregor said.

“Like all of the murder mysteries, this new one is intended to be engaging and entertaining,” McGregor said. “It’s not high art. The plays are supposed to be fun and nothing more.”

In “Dressing for Murder,” Cara Twigg, Grace’s old friend, invites the ladies for a quiet and seemingly harmless Thanksgiving weekend at her vacation home on a private island in the San Juans, McGregor said.

However, Cara neglects to inform the pair that she has another motive for the invitation. She suspects that someone in her family is killing off other members in an attempt to gain control of the family trust. Cara wants Grace and Doris to figure out who the murderer is.

“The amateur sleuths get themselves into these situations and then people start dying,” McGregor said.

In Everett, all three plays, with women as the main characters, have featured Reunion Theatre veterans Bonnie Ronan as Grace and Janine Snavely as Doris.

“This time around, Bonnie and Janine are helping to shape their characters. Over the past few months, the script has been revised and rewritten,” McGregor said. “It has been fantastic to have actors who are already familiar with the characters. It’s also an amazing gift for us to have a local theater willing to take a chance on a new script and include it in their season based on an early draft of the play, a draft that definitely needed work.”

The rest of the cast also does a great job with the play, McGregor said.

It includes Vicki Linn Maxey, David Perssons, Jennifer Price, Monica Chilton, Bruce Lanning, Jeff Christensen, BriAnne Green, Tucker Boggio and Mackenzie Furash.

McGregor, who has written other plays, is originally from Mississippi. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Rice University and his master of fine arts in stage direction from the University of Houston.

Voland’s background is in journalism, having been the editor, publisher and owner of the Monitor newspaper in Monroe, where he grew up. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and his master’s in communications from the University of Washington.

“Howard enjoys murder mysteries, so he does the outline and first drafts of our plays,” McGregor said. “But I have the theater training and so I do the rewrite. Then he does another rewrite.”

“It’s great to have the show up on its feet.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

“Dressing for Murder”

Performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 3. Everett Music Hall, 1402 SE Everett Mall Way. Park on the freeway side near Macy’s. Doors open 30 minutes before show time. Tickets are $14 or $11 for students, seniors and military personnel. For reservations, call 425-268-2187. More information is at www.reuniontheatregroup.org.

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