#039;Whodunit#039; opens at CHHS

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

While storms raged through Pike County Thursday night, guests in an elegant Bermuda home had a storm of their own.

But this one brought with it a few uninvited guests and more mystery than Inspector Benjamin Braddock could handle.

In the Charles Henderson High School whodunit play, "While the Lights Were Out" by Jack Sharkey, Lord Wickenham appears dead on the parlor floor after the lights go out during a windstorm.

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The Wickenham's Bermuda mansion is quickly turned into a crime scene and guests become suspects in a comical murder mystery.

As with all good mysteries, there is a twist.

The Inspector declares that Wickenham has been strangled, but while the lights were out, guests distinctly heard a gunshot.

When the lights come on again, a strange blonde is standing over Wickenham's body with a bloody dagger.

Most of the clues elude both the audience and the Inspector, but not his trusty assistant, Police Sergeant Alma Threedle.

At the close of Act I, she begins to dutifully explain the case to Braddock and clues him in on her plan to uncover the killer.

The audience and the Wickenham guests, however, won't find out until Act 3.

Members in the audience can also participate by marking who they think the killer is on the back of their ticket.

At the end of the play, the first ticket to be drawn with the correct answer is a winner.

"Last night we went through 15 tickets before we found the winner," said director Darlene Jennings. "You really know the kids are doing a good job of keeping the audience in suspense."

The ease the actors have while on stage comes from months of hard work and practice.

"Since January, they have practiced three hours everyday until opening night," Jennings said.

"And as it got closer, they practiced on the weekends."

Seniors Ebony Williams, who plays an Alabama house guest named Jasmine Perdoo, and Willie Williams, who plays the butler Roderick Remley, said practices were sometimes frustrating.

"We rehearsed from nine to four over spring break and sometimes on Sundays," said Ebony.

"You can get tired and practice can become a real frustration," said Willie.

"But it really pays off."

The two have been involved in drama for four years and they said "While the Lights Were Out" has one of the best sets they've worked with.

The set, which includes a staircase, fireplace, balcony and two hallways, was completely built by high school students.

Students also handled the play's promotions.

"Nobody came in to help them," said Jennings.

"They had to figure out how to do it themselves.

They know now that show business is a business."

The practice, dedication and back stage support really helped pull the play together and allowed the actors to do their jobs on stage.

"It's just a good, fun show," said Jennings.

"It's a show for all ages; families can come to it.

And there's live entertainment before the play and at intermission."

So, whodunit?

Was it the mysterious blonde, the overbearing wife or the butler?

How about the maid or the housekeeper?

Friday and Saturday are the last nights to find out.

The play starts at 7 p.m. at Troy Elementary School and tickets can be bought at the door for $4.