When you have characters named Lulu Stapinski and Sophie Negglehoff, you know you're in spoof-land -- which is exactly where New American Theatre (NAT) in Rockford, IL, wants to take audiences in its downstairs, second-stage space. Their latest is a zany mystery-thriller, Murder on the Air.
The first two previews for the show, scheduled to begin Mar. 4, have been cancelled. But no foul pay is afoot; according to an NAT spokesperson, an actor is ill. He should recuperate in time for the March 6 opening, which has not been changed.
In Margaret Raether's comedy, a 1930s radio station tries to keep its schedule going despite a string of disasters -- including a corpse. Author Raeither has also penned Murder Centerstage and Murder Howls at Midnight for the company. (Appropriately, in the show, the station's call letters are WNAT.)
Richard Raether, the author's husband, directs Murder, which stars Gail Dartez, Nancy Ross-Erickson, Pat Bauerlein, Ken Staaf, Stephen Kincannon and April Bieschke.
While Murder plays at the Amcore Cellar space, NAT has Having Our Say on the mainstage, to be followed by To Kill A Mockingbird and A.R. Gurney's Sylvia. Founded 26 years ago by J.R. Sullivan, NAT is now headed by producing artistic director William Gregg. For information on New American Theatre shows call (815)964-6286.
-- By David Lefkowitz