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"Perfect Crime" Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary at Snapple Theater Center
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"Perfect Crime" Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary at Snapple Theater Center

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Snapple Theater Center
(Theater Website)
210 West 50th Street

Armand Hyatt, Executive Producer

Perfect Crime
25th Anniversary
(Show Website)

By Warren Manzi
Director: Jeffrey Hyatt

Starring: Catherine Russell, Richard Shoberg,
Rob Sedgwick, John Hillner, Patrick Robustelli

Scenic Design: Jay Stone & Warren Manzi
Costume Design: Nancy Bush
Lighting Design: Joe Hodge
Sound Design: David Lawson
Production Stage Manager: Kim Moore
Press: John Capo

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 18, 2012

I like theater anniversaries, and tonight was a special event, with parties before and after the show. At the Snapple Theater Center, Catherine Russell played Margaret Thorne Brent, in Perfect Crime, by Warren Manzi, in celebration of the show’s non-stop twenty five years on the New York Off-Broadway stage. The show has traveled from downtown to midtown, but the sets came along in fine form. More surprisingly, Catherine Russell came along in fine form, as well, as she has almost never missed a performance. In fact, I didn’t even see an understudy listed in the program. The cast is small, and the play is a murder mystery, but not one that sears the mind with nightmares to come. This murder mystery is more like a thousand-piece puzzle, and perhaps that’s the reason it’s such a challenging plot. As the play ended, people turned, in the intimate seating, to those nearby, looking to reassure themselves that they weren’t alone in final confusion. As the After-Party began, moreover, the talk was all about, “What did you think happened when…?” And, we were all relieved that confusion is just the right sentiment to experience.

Ms. Russell is more than natural in the role. She IS the psychiatrist, wife, and possible murderess. John Hillner, as W. Harrison Brent, Margaret’s husband, who is also a psychiatrist, shares perfectly tense chemistry with Ms. Russell, making the crime seem possible. Rob Sedgwick, as Lionel McAuley, one of Ms. Russell’s patients, is Hitchcockian and disturbing, but nothing in the play makes you want to head for the door. Rather, each moment is compelling and clever, a piece in the puzzle, although this is a puzzle that keeps changing shape. It’s never complete or comprehensible. Patrick Robustelli, who plays David Breuer, a TV cable show host (one can surmise that plot details have changed with decades of culture), is fitting to the minor role. The coup de grace was Richard Shoberg, in a highly nuanced role as Inspector James Asher. Mr. Shoberg was outstanding, as he glanced about the Brents’ living room, eyeing every single object and exit with knowing gestures. He was an actor’s actor, filling the character with professional persona.

There were photos and brief greetings later on, amidst wine and hors d’oeuvres, but it was the play, itself, that stayed with me endlessly, its plot twists and turns intriguing my logic. Jay Stone and Warren Manzi’s set design was lived in and realistic, as the “sitting room” of an upscale home in Windsor Locks, CT. Joe Hodge’s lighting swiftly contrasted the eerie and elegant. Nancy Bush’s costumes were contemporary comfortable, and David Lawson’s sound was bright. Jeffrey Hyatt directed to make the most of minor body language and facial intimations. Armand Hyatt is to be commended as Executive Producer. May the show and Ms. Russell enjoy another quarter century of puzzling mystery.

Richard Shoberg, Catherine Russell
in "Perfect Crime"
Courtesy of Fran Collin

"Perfect Crime" 25th Anniversary Party
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Richard Shoberg, Catherine Russell, Rob Sedgwick
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Armand Hyatt, Exec. Producer, "Perfect Crime"
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

"Perfect Crime" 25th Anniversary Party
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Original "Perfect Crime" Poster
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Richard Shoberg, Catherine Russell
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

"Perfect Crime" 25th Anniversary Party
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Sonya Owczarek, Bob Blume (Co-Prod. Drama Desk Awards)
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Ward Morehouse III and Bob Blume
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Ward Morehouse III, Catherine Russell
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Bob Blume, Sonya Owczarek, Dr. Joy Browne
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at