Living Black and White™
Every January, Pegasus Theatre presents a unique production at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas: a play that looks and feels like an old black and white movie. Through special trademarked make-up techniques, carefully chosen costuming, clever lighting and stylized acting, the experience is so good that when a woman in a bright red dress steps onto the stage after the curtain call, it’s jarring to the eyes. (Even my camera struggled to make sense of that moment; she came out looking splotchy and yellow in a few shots.)
A Parody of Film Noir & Crime Fiction
These Living Black & White™ productions are the brainchild of Pegasus Theatre founder and Artistic Director Kurt Kleinmann, who also stars in the shows as Harry Hunsacker. The plays are set in the 1930’s and 40’s and feature the detective/aspiring actor, Harry Hunsacker, and his paid-by-the-hour assistant and pal, Nigel Grouse. The stories are a parody of film noir and hard boiled detective movies, and while Kleinmann’s main characters were inspired by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, he adds the comedic twist of making the detective dim-witted while the assistant is the clever one.
Rehearsal for Murder!
This year’s Living Black & White™ show is entitled, “Rehearsal for Murder!” and is set in the year 1946. The story centers on a cop named Lt. Foster who is excited to escape the big city after inheriting a hotel in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Before he can kick back and enjoy the good life, Lt. Foster discovers that the leading man for a troupe of actors who have been rehearsing a Broadway play has been murdered at the inn. To add to the stress, detective Harry Hunsacker (who Lt. Foster despises) and his assistant, Nigel Grouse are hired to investigate, the inn seems haunted, a mysterious stranger appears, and the body count just keeps on going up…
Period Music & Prizes for Guessing Who Done It
Vocalists, Patrick Detloff and Sarah Powell added an unexpected addition to the 1940’s ambience by singing a selection of songs by the likes of Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin before the show and during the break. Audience members are also invited to predict who the killer/killers are by filling out ballots during intermission, with the winner getting a prize at the end of the show.
Fun Photo Ops After the Show
Photography is not allowed during the performance (the ones I used for this article were snapped after the curtain call) but after the show, the actors are available for photos in the lobby. I was surprised at how well the Living Black and White™ make-up and costuming works offstage. (Check out this link to the Pegasus Theatre for some excellent photos of the actors in their special Living Black & White™ makeup and costumes.)
My tickets were a Christmas gift, and this was my first time viewing the annual Living Black and White™ show, but it certainly won’t be my last. This year’s show runs through January 26th, 2014 so if you are in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, I highly recommend checking this unique production out.
For More information:
What:“Rehearsal for Murder!”
When: Now through January 26, 2014
Where: Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson, TX 75082
Price: Tickets start at $20. Check availability and book online at the Eisemann Center official website.
Runtime:Approximately 2.5 hours with one intermission.