On a dark and dreary winter evening on a lonely country road, Grace and Doris skid into a ditch. Looking for help, the bickering duo take refuge in the nearest building, an old community theatre where auditions are scheduled for the next production. Little do they suspect the murderous (and hilarious) shenanigans that await them.
Cast in order of appearance:
Susan Benson – Oldest of the four Benson siblings. A walk-on character. She can easily be doubled with Bernice; but if she is, her face should not be recognizable from the audience.
Grace Sharp – 60+. A widow and retired school teacher. Very alert. Grace and Doris are close friends who travel together.
Doris Brooks – 60+ and active. A widow and retired nurse practitioner. Very sarcastic. Grace and Doris are close friends who travel together.
Hap Miller – 60+ and very active. A hard-of-hearing womanizer. He is uncle to Susan, Tom, Rhonda, and Helen, a brother and three sisters.
Rhonda Benson-Squash – Mid 40s. Recently divorced and bitter. Younger than Susan and Tom.
Margo Benson Stevens – Mid 20s. Niece to Susan, Rhonda, Helen and Tom. A fast talker, but intelligent and more attractive than she looks and dresses.
Peter Grogan – Late 20s. Indolent and a smart-ass, but sexy and capable of being sincere. Helen’s stepson.
Tom Benson – Late 40s. Arrogant and ironic. Younger than Susan and older than Rhonda and Helen.
Helen Benson-Grogan – 40ish. Self-centered and vain. She dresses well, and is the youngest of the Benson siblings.
Rory Toppman – Mid 40s. Pompous and self-important. A local police officer.
Bernice Sharp-Squash – 50s, but looks younger. Stylish and sophisticated. Grace’s considerably younger half-sister.
Note: Although there are eleven characters, they can be played by ten actors-six women and four men. Character ages have a good bit of flexibility (up or down), as long as the relationships work. Grace and Doris are the “wise old women” of the group, but they must be spry and alert. Hap needs to be in the same age range as Grace and Doris or older, but other than his “hearing problem” he must have a lot of energy. Susan, Rhonda, Helen, Bernice, Tom and Rory are the middle-aged group. Margo and Peter are the youngsters, but they should still be adults.
Note: Audition for Murder was conceived for a standard proscenium stage, with legs masking the offstage area on either side and a curtain across the back of the stage, leaving room for a crossover backstage. It was initially staged in this type of theatre. At that theatre there were steps leading down from the stage on either side of the proscenium opening, and there were entrances into the auditorium on either side of the proscenium arch. The staging notes in this script were taken from that production. The staging in a thrust or arena theatre space may not be easy-but, no doubt, a creative director can make it work well.
Time: Contemporary; Late Sunday afternoon in early January.
Place: The empty stage of an isolated community theatre, in a cold part of the United States.
The set is the stage of a community theatre which has been prepared for an evening of auditions for an upcoming production. The director is the kind of “artist” who wants to see his auditioners move around the space while they’re doing cold, script-in-hand readings from the play for which they are auditioning, so an “acting space” has been created with folding chairs, work tables, and crates.
Upstage center is an easel with a whiteboard placed on it. Across the top is written, “SIGN IN,” and below that, on either side, are written in big letters, “Name” and “Age Range.”
Stage left of the whiteboard/easel is a 6′ folding table with half a dozen metal folding chairs around it.
Stage right of the whiteboard/easel is a folding card table with four metal folding chairs around it.
Downstage right are two folding chairs with a crate between them, suggesting a chair/side table grouping. The grouping angles to face downstage and center.
Downstage left are three folding chairs grouped to suggest a sofa. The grouping angles to face downstage and center. If there’s room another crate could create an end table at the downstage end of the sofa.
On the 6′ table are paper towels, bottles of water, note pads, ten or more coffee mugs (all different and obviously well used), spoons, a sugar bowl, and a bottle of instant creamer.
Upstage left, right at the base of one of the wings, is an old tin bucket.
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The “Audition for Murder” photographs on the website are from the production by Off The Wall Theater in Monroe, Washington. Click the photo for a full-size version. The set for this production was designed by one of the playwrights.