‘Curse Of The Comet’

Acting Group Performance Helps Renovate Library

Detective Lily Law (Amy Near) reviews the facts prior to revealing the murderer in The Curse of the Comet. In the background from right to left are Cheryl Shay (Emerald Wiech), Dianna Darien (Jade Shamoe) Tabby (Tabetha Bedner), Professor Willard Goodfellow (Pete Ryan), and Ramon Hopkins (Dan Rowe.) Submitted photo

RIPLEY — In a mission to help renovate the Ripley Library, the Ripley Library Players, are performing “The Curse of The Comet”

The acting group delivered its third performance of the dinner/murder mystery in which the audience tries to solve the case through interaction with the characters Aug. 8 at Quincy Cellars. The first two performances took place at Pine Junction in Sherman, and at Noble Winery in Westfield earlier in the summer.

The acting group is planning two more presentations of the murder mystery, the dates and times of which will be announced. The first two presentations were so successful, Director Tersa Testrake said it was decided to extend the performances.

“I am very pleased with the productions; with every play, we continue to grow and improve,” Testrake said. “With all the support that we’ve gotten, we will be able to help promote the next state of renovations of the library.”

Prior to the beginning of the show, Testrake noted that the need for renovations in the library is great, due to a collapsing ceiling and the age of the building. “We are a growing theater group. Our mission is to raise funds to renovate the Ripley Library,” Testrake said. “So far this season, we’ve raised $2,500.”

In Act I, the details of the murder and case were presented through detective Lily Law, played by Amy Near. As she introduced the suspects, each character explained his or her background to the audience, while attempting to imply guilt of the other characters.

Act II took place while those attending were eating dinner. The characters roamed through the dinner tables, inviting audience members to question them. For their part, the audience sleuths had several written clues provided by Lily Law, to assist them in their interrogation.

In Act III, Lily Law brought out the suspects and eliminated them one by one, until she made the final pronouncement of the guilty party. After this, Testrake read aloud the deductions and accusations submitted by the audience after Act II.

The performance began as Olympia Orbit, played by Sylvia Rowe, told the audience about the Intec Indian Emperor Hopkay, who died in 1519. She was interrupted by Lily Law, however, before she could tell of the curse of the Hopkay comet. It was said that whoever desecrated the emperor’s tomb would die on the night the comet returned.

This is exactly what happened. Lily Law then explained how, on September 17, 1945, the body of world renowned archeologist, Myron Mason, who had found and raided the tomb of Hopkey ten years earlier, was discovered draped over the thorn bushes at the Beverly Hills home of his twin brother .

Mason’s brother, Maurice, a washed up, alcoholic actor, played by Mike Rowe, had hosted a party to celebrate the comet’s return. Also, Maurice’s wife, Dianna Darien, played by Jade Shampoe, had invited an unexpected guest, namely Sister Natasia, played by Laurel Adams. Sister Natasia was the founder of the Followers of Hopkay.

Myron Mason had not come to the party alone, either. His assistant, Cheryl Shay, played by Emerald Wiech, had accompanied him. As it turned out, she was his latest love interest and he broke up with her just before their arrival.

Also present, was professor Willard Goodfellow, portrayed by Pete Ryan, who was on the scene to help the party-goers view the comet. It later became known, however, that he accompanied Myron Mason on his expedition to locate the tomb of Hopkay.

And finally. there was Ramon Hopkins, a mysterious character who crashed the party, declaring he had come to see Myron Mason receive his punishment for desecrating Hopkay’s tomb.

Additional cast members included Jacob Rowe, who played Emperor Hopkey; Tabitha Bedner who played Tabby, Lily Law’s assistant; and Kyle Prewitt, who was the sound technician responsible for, among other things, the sounds of Zeus, the dog.

The facts in the case took many twists and turns, as secrets were revealed about each character. By the end of Act II, however, the audience members had all the facts they needed to discern who was the murderer, if only they observed carefully and asked the right questions.

The Ripley Library Players have performing for several years. Testrake said they are planning to branch out into new types of performances. “We’re going to continue to do our murder mysteries, but we’re going to expand into other types of productions,” Testrake said. “We are thrilled to provide quality entertainment to our community and help our library.”