'A Laughing Matter'

The Children's Mystery Theatre is finally getting a chance to stage its original play, "A Laughing Matter," a classic whodunit set in a 1940s nightclub. There will be two performances: 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Oregon Stage Works, 191 A St., Ashland.

Children's Mystery Theatre started in December 2006, when a group of eight Ashland Middle School students began working with Eve Smyth and Kate Sullivan, co-directors of Ashland Children's Theatre. Their goal was to create an old-fashioned murder mystery that they could perform for the public.

The project was inspired by the longest-running drama in history &

Agatha Christie's "Mousetrap," which has been staged more than 20,000 times since 1952. "John Javna, an Ashland parent, saw the play with his family in London," Smyth explained in a press release, "and came back pretty excited. He said, 'Everyone loves mysteries, so it would be a great genre for kids to experiment with.' Then he gave us the funding to make it possible."

The middle-schoolers worked together for about six months. They invented characters, wrote the play, and were ready to perform in it when the school year ended.

"We just ran out of time," says Ashland Children's Theatre co-director Kate Sullivan "It would have taken another month to put together a fully staged version of the play, and many of the kids were leaving for vacation. So we decided to present a staged reading, with the promise a full production at a later date."

The stage reading was performed before a full house at OSW on June 11, 2007.

"A Laughing Matter" (recommended for ages 8 and up) was written by Charlie Bass, Angilica Florio, Aurelia Grierson, Sophie Javna, Pia Marchetti, Zach Markovich, Ryan Mills and Drew Woods.

The cast this time around consists of two original writer/actors: Javna, who plays a sultry nightclub singer, and Marchetti, who plays a vaudeville comedian.

The rest of the troupe was picked especially for the upcoming performance. Actors include Jake Crutcher, Rowan Heglie, Eli Piccarreta, Amelia Sorensen, Sierra Wood and Taylor Wood.

The stage manager is Tejas LeierHeyden. Smyth is the director.

Tickets are $5 at the door.

Call 482-2334, ext. 2.

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