Coshocton Footlight Players present murder mystery comedy

| November 16, 2017

COSHOCTON – Christmas 1936. The renowned Broadway actor famous for bringing Sherlock Holmes to the American stage, William Gillette has invited his fellow actors to gather at his infamous Connecticut castle for a festive Christmas meal. What the actors don’t know is that Gillette has also planned a séance with a theatre critic who is not too well liked. When the séance goes horribly wrong and someone at the castle ends up murdered, Gillette takes on the persona of his much-beloved Holmes character to try and solve the crime.

“The Games Afoot” or “Holmes for the Holidays” will be a delight to audiences at the Triple Locks Theatre this holiday season. Opening night is Friday, Dec. 1 and is complete with light refreshments beginning at 7 p.m. Curtain time will be at 8 p.m. The play will run Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for students and can be obtained by calling the box office at 740-622-2959.

“I think the interesting note here is that William Gillette was the first person to bring Sherlock Holmes to the stages of America,” said Mark Kittel, director of the show. “This is kind of like a Sherlock Holmes mystery without Sherlock Holmes being in the play.”

One of the actresses invited to Gillette’s castle, Madge, is being played by Cyndi Shutt, who has returned to the stage after a 20-year absence.

“I’m loving it,” she said about her theatre comeback. “I took some time off to raise my children, but now they’re all grown up with lives of their own. It is a thrill to be here and with such a great cast, especially performing in a community that supports the arts.”

However, Shutt wasn’t the original actress to portray Madge. After falling and breaking her foot, Kathy Huffman had to relinquish her role as Madge and sit this one out.

“It was very disappointing,” she said. “But they still have me coming in and prompting the actors and they’ll have me ushering on performance nights. So I’m still helping out with the show.”

Jon Cotterman portrays Felix, Gillette’s long-time friend who tries to straighten him out on occasion, especially when he starts acting like Sherlock Holmes.

“Felix is Gillette’s long-time friend and they’ve been friends since they were poor as church mice,” said Cotterman. “He’s been with Gillette through the whole thing and he tends to become Sherlock Holmes at times, so it’s up to Felix to straighten him out.”

Jeff Wherley portrays William Gillette, which is the second real-live person Wherley has portrayed. He also played Ben Hecht in “Moonlight and Magnolias”.

“It’s interesting because I have actually heard his (Gillette’s) voice,” said Wherley. “I’ve heard him speak his lines. I found an audio file on YouTube and actually got to hear him speak. The big temptation is you try to imitate them and become what they were, but you have to make the character your own. Gillette had a big personality and was a bit full of himself. He was an entertainer.”

Mickie Galajda portrays Gillette’s mother, Martha.

“She’s very wealthy because she’s his mother,” said Galajda. “She can be a little doughty at times.”

Amanda Gress portrays the inspector who tries to solve the mystery.

“She’s quite a character,” said Gress. “She has lots of cases under her belt and she can’t solve any of them. She claims it’s because she always misses clues, but she always catches the criminal. She’s quite quirky. She wanted to be an actress, but she claims she didn’t because she lacked confidence. But she’s really a terrible actor. She uses Shakespeare a lot to try to impress Mr. Gillette.”

Gress is a veteran of the Triple Locks stage, but this is the first time she has ever been on stage with her daughter, Lydia Bailey.

“It’s pretty special,” said Gress. “I’ve thanked Mark (Kittel) several times for this. She’s a graduating senior this year so this might be the only show we do together. It’s nice to have this experience with her.”

For more information on the show or to get tickets, visit the Coshocton Footlight Players website at or find them on Facebook.

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Category: Arts & Entertainment

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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