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Love, lies and laughs in ‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’s’

By Staff | Apr 23, 2009

The final show of the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater’s 2008-2009 season is a riotous comedy all about love, lust, relationships, true happiness – and what you would resort to hold onto at least one of those things.

Would you kill for love? For happiness?

Written by Sam Bobrick and Ron Clark, “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” is a laugh-a-minute look into three select evenings (a week before Christmas, the fourth of July and New Year’s Eve) in the lives of three people involved in a complicated love triangle that’s always heading towards homicide, but inevitably ends in hilarity.

Directed by Victor Legarreta, the show opens with an average hotel room that has been decorated for Christmas (lighting, sound and scenic design by Todd Sherman, properties by Bobby Logue).

The audience is immediately drawn into the plot of the show via the fine-tuning of a murder scheme concocted by Arlene Miller (Samantha Rotella) and Mitchell Lovell (Marcus Kiehl).

Mitchell, who fancies himself equal parts successful dentist and dreamboat, is plotting with Arlene, a philosophical and seemingly never-satisfied married woman, to kill Arlene’s clueless and somewhat bland used-car salesman husband Paul (Matthew Edwards) unless he agrees to divorce her.

Rotella is sublime as the quirky, soul-searching Arlene who’s grown tired of her husband Paul’s concept of “marriage” – clothes, money and an overabundance of fancy wristwatches – and has fallen into the lusting arms of the Miller’s dentist, Mitchell Lovell.

Kiehl is a joy to watch as the egotistical ladies’ man and lover, foiling Edwards’ equally hysterical role as Arlene’s sensible, shallow husband.

The trio’s chemistry and respective comedic performances shine as loyalties shift among the characters at breakneck speed.

What do these characters want and how will they go about achieving true happiness?

Who ends up happy and more importantly, who ends up dead?

Get your tickets now and finds out at the Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater’s performance of “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s.”