Comedy and mystery merge in ‘Corpse!’

Comedy and mystery merge in ‘Corpse!’

Comedy and mystery merge in ‘Corpse!’
Kieran Cross and Gary Mutz star in Onstage Theatre’s murder-mystery “Corpse!” (Savannah Daniels photo)

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (August 18, 2022) — Kudos to Onstage Theatre for taking on Gerald Moon’s murder-mystery “Corpse!”

The British whodunit has lots of fascinating characters well-performed by an outstanding cast beautifully directed by Dennis Klein.

“Corpse!” follows twin brothers Evelyn (an out-of-work actor) and Rupert (a wealthy businessman). To put it mildly, the two don’t get along – with Evelyn plotting to kill his twin and take his place. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil the fun.

Evelyn employs a down-on-his-luck Major Powell to do the deed, with Evelyn’s landlady Mrs. McGee almost foiling his plans on several, very funny occasions. The cast also includes a friendly policeman named Hawkins who stumbles upon one of the many bodies that fill the stage.

Kieran Cross has the challenging role of switching back and forth between Evelyn and his wealthy sibling Rupert. He does an excellent job creating each distinct personality, not to mention the drag queen he also portrays.

Comedic timing has always been a plus for Gary Mutz, who plays the unlikely assassin. Lisa Marie Taylor provides comedy and romance as the hard-drinking landlady, with Zack Bender as the not-to-be-fooled policeman.

The ambitious production requires two very different locations – a Soho basement flat and a home in Regents Park. Given Onstage Theatre’s small budget and the Campbell Theatre’s small acting area, a revolving stage was out of the question.

Klein decided upon a very theatrical alternative. Set designers Diane McRice and John Allred created Evelyn’s tawdry basement apartment that could be taken apart, turned around and made into Rupert’s elegant home.

Dressed as robbers, a crew of five manages the complicated set changes to the music of “The Pink Panther” and “Peter Gunn.” Congrats to Savannah Daniels, Teddie Gilbert, Lori Mrochinski, Sal Ramos and John Whitaker – who spent many hours perfecting the scene changes and adding their own unique entertainment to the production.

“Corpse!” continues through Aug. 21 at the Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., Martinez. Call 925-350-9770 or go to for tickets.

Steel Magnolias

Tina Smith is Ouiser and Sandy Wright is Clairee in Pittsburg Theatre Company’s production of “Steel Magnolias.” (Sara Layva photo)

Pittsburg Theatre Company is busy readying Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” for its September Black Box series. Terry Tracy directs this heartwarming yet bittersweet story.

Set in the 1980s, the action takes place in Truvy’s beauty salon – where the ladies of the neighborhood gather for gossip and fun but with the strength to comfort each other when loss strikes.

Juhandryn Dessames plays the wise-cracking Truvy, with Rachel McElroy her eager-to-please new assistant. Tina Smith has the role of Ouiser, the town’s curmudgeon, and Sandy Wright is the sports-loving former mayor’s wife Miss Clairee. Kim Saunders has the pivotal role of M’Lynn, and Sophia Amador playing her daughter.

“Steel Magnolias” plays Sept. 16-25 at Steeltown Coffee and Tea in Old Town Pittsburg, 695 Railroad Ave. Seating is limited. Call 925-439-PLAY or go to

Family Day at the Lesher Center will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 21. There will be chalk art and family-friendly activities on Rudney Plaza, free entry to the Bedford Gallery and indoor performances of “Wizard of Oz” by Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble.

The center is at 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. For more information, call 925-943-SHOW or go to

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Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to