Belmont, most recently known for it’s thriving downtown and restaurants, has been an active theater town for a number of years. The Abbey Players would regularly present interesting and sometimes quirky works a couple of times per year.
Keith Taylor, the long time drama instructor at South Point HS left after the last school year to pursue greener pastures in the Triad. His replacement at South Point, Marcus Riter (prounounced, write-r), has taken the youthful thespians to new heights this school year.
Saturday night in the South Point cafeteria, the stage was set for a Dinner Theater production of Murder and Mystery. 2, one-act plays were performed around a pasta dinner catered by the Olive Garden restaurant to a sold out, SRO crowd.
The first performance, “Clue’, was a take-off of the popular whodunit game. Mr. Riter wrote and directed his young charges through a simple choreography of murder and revenge. The usual suspects of Mr. Green (played by Sarah Green), Professor Plum (Scott Stowe), Colonel Mustard (Jon Stewart), Ms. Scarlett (Laura Lemond), Ms. White (Kelsey Pate), Mrs. Peacock (Haley Bishop), and the body (Adam Kirkby), were drawn into a surprising murder, committed by who? An audience member? one of the caterers, or (gasp…) Mr. Riter’s own father!
The second play, a longer one-act play-within-a-play, called, “The Real Inspector Hound“, evoked a Twilight Zone appeal where two theater critics are drawn into a London stage play in the midst of their own personal dramas. Julianne Reeger starred in this scenario as “Moon”, a second level theater critic covering for a more expereienced reporter. Ms. Reeger ably carried an english accent throughout the production as did her competitive writer, Birdboot, played by Geoffry Brown. Ryan Howard played a somewhat clueless romeo, Simon Gascoyne, often floating around the stage. Felicity (Crystal Hannah) and Cynthia (Kirby Beal) were the objects of Simon’s “affairs”.
To make a long story short, the students pulled off a complicated plot line with energy, humor, and class. More importantly, a young crew of actors displayed their talent in a popular dinner setting. Mr. Riter is to be praised for his chops in putting together this event. As he mentioned, “if you liked it, tell everyone, if you didn’t, just be quiet and go home!”
Obviously, we liked it. The format, the staging, the actors, and the enthusiasm – all good, even after a busy day in downtown Belmont.
The Abbey Players are still around. Somewhat loosely organized, but missing longtime director, Simon Donohue. Marcus Riter could certainly try to tie the student and adult groups together, find much needed funding for both programs and keep Belmont theater supporters going to dinner and a show.