Much Ado About Murder: A Hare-Raising Tail

Posted in Community, Feature, More Stories, Theater and Dance

BY BETTY FREEMAN
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
February 24, 2016

There’ll be “Much Ado About Murder” in Langley during Mystery Weekend, this next Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 27 and 28.

Author Loretta S. Martin

Writer Loretta Martin has been creating the Mystery Weekend story for 18 years. 

For the last 32 years, Langley has been the scene of a “murder” in late February. Amateur sleuths from far and wide come to the Village by the Sea to help figure out the latest whodunit. A troupe of seasoned actors takes over the town for two days as the mystery, penned by Loretta Martin, unfolds.

Martin collects ideas all year for her murder mystery, usually including details of current events. Her story is always full of puns, word play and absurd takeoffs of real people in the news.

“It’s thrilling to see the characters I invent come to life,” said Martin. “It’s the highlight of my year.”

The Island Shakespeare Festival and Langley’s ravenous rabbits figure prominently in this year’s mystery. Langley’s wascally wabbits had their fifteen minutes of fame late last year when TV crews converged on Langley to discover why the town was divided as to what should be done about the harey problem.

They may look cute to the casual visitor, but Langley’s burgeoning bunny population eats up yards and pastures, burrows into lawns and sports fields and generally wreaks havoc.

Clockwise L to R: Julius Cesaro (Jerry Lechner), Portia Cesaro (Joanne Lechner), Rosalind Orlando (Anita Reber), Ophelia Burton (Annie Horton), Velma T. Bunie (Josh Hauser), Josephine Curr Panifica (Kelly Baugh) and Juliet Romero (Lisa Forrester) are actors and patrons of the Island Shakespeare Festival. (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Clockwise L to R: Julius Cesaro (Jerry Lechner), Portia Cesaro (Joanne Lechner), Rosalind Orlando (Anita Reber), Ophelia Burton (Annie Horton), Velma T. Bunie (Josh Hauser), Josephine Curr Panifica (Kelly Baugh) and Juliet Romero (Lisa Forrester) are actors and patrons of the Island Shakespeare Festival.

They may look cute to the casual visitor, but Langley’s burgeoning bunny population eats up yards and pastures, burrows into lawns and sports fields and generally wreaks havoc.

Now it seems the bunnies are mixed up in murder most foul.

What seemed like the perfect answer to the bunny boondoggle appeared in a proposal from one of Langley’s newest residents, famed British Shakespearean actor, Sir Laurence Burton, who moved to Whidbey as a consultant to The Island Shakespeare Festival.

Ophelia Burton (Annie Horton), wife of the murder victim, doesn’t think much of her husband’s bunny farm nor does she appreciate his roving eye. (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Ophelia Burton (Annie Horton), wife of the murder victim, doesn’t think much of her husband’s bunny farm nor does she appreciate his roving eye. 

After Burton purchased a 40-acre farm near Honeymoon Bay he learned about Langley’s lepus lament. Burton offered to establish a rabbit sanctuary on his farm and announced he would pay $5 for every bunny humanely captured and delivered to his sanctuary. Burton promised to shelter the Langley bunnies for life in climate-controlled hutches with large rabbit-fenced pastures in which to roam.

His wife Ophelia didn’t think much of this idea. She’s allergic to rabbit fur and has enough problems already keeping track of her husband, who may have his roaming eye on one of the younger Shakespeare festival actresses.

A group of avid hunters, led by Elmer Dud and Wiley Bunie, want to trap the rabbits and sell them to Sir Laurence.

Members of the Hasenpfeffer Inc. group include Gustaf Hausen and his wife Hertha (Wayne Furber and Trevor Arnold) and the fresh young faces of the company Lavern Lubeck (Audrey Lattin) and Shirley Stollen (Salem O’Neil). (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Members of the Hasenpfeffer Inc. group include Gustaf Hausen and his wife Hertha (Wayne Furber and Trevor Arnold) and the fresh young faces of the company Lavern Lubeck (Audrey Lattin) and Shirley Stollen (Salem O’Neil).Restaurant owner Gustaf Hausen has aspirations to open a German restaurant where hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew) would be the specialty. He sees Langley’s bunnies as a source of cash.

A motley band of eco-activists wants to “let the bunnies roam free and frolic.”

Ignis Panifica (Matt Hoar) sees dollar signs when he sees bunnies he wants to kill and sell to Hasenpfeffer Incorporated. (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Ignis Panifica (Matt Hoar) sees dollar signs when he sees bunnies he wants to kill and sell to Hasenpfeffer Incorporated. 

And outspoken Langley mayoral candidate Donald Tramp made the campaign promise to “Deport these aliens!”

However, Sir Laurence’s proposition seemed like the perfect compromise. So why would anyone want to murder him?

Nevertheless, the cold, stiff body of the famous Shakespearean actor was found on the morning of Feb. 26 in Melson Alley in the village.

Naturally the police have been called in, and veteran Detective I.B. Fuzz and her cousin Hagetha Kisstea are on the case. But as usual, with these annual late February murders in Langley, the city has called for the assistance of amateur sleuths to help solve the mystery.

None of the characters know if they will be accused of murder until everybody learns the truth at the Mystery Weekend finale at Langley Middle School auditorium at 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

The 49ers, who want to humanely trap and deliver the bunnies to Sir Laurence Burton’s haven, with cohorts Elmer Dud and Wiley Bunie. L to R: Joe Curr (Bob Essex), Daryl B. Morticome (Dave Holt), Wiley Bunie (Sean McDougald), C.Z. Cash (Fred O’Neil), and Elmer Dud (Joe McDougald). (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

The 49ers, who want to humanely trap and deliver the bunnies to Sir Laurence Burton’s haven, with cohorts Elmer Dud and Wiley Bunie. L to R: Joe Curr (Bob Essex), Daryl B. Morticome (Dave Holt), Wiley Bunie (Sean McDougald), C.Z. Cash (Fred O’Neil), and Elmer Dud (Joe McDougald). 

“Everybody [the actors] makes the plot dark and the motive muddy,” said veteran Mystery Weekend actress Josh Hauser, who this year plays Velma T. Bunie, a bookstore owner and patron of the Shakespeare Festival.

“The troupe gets along well and plays off each other,” she added.

These eco-activists want to let the bunnies roam free: Marchel Hare (Riley Pomeroy), Roger Babbit (J. Scott Williams), Peter Babbit (Max Lattin), Peter C. Tail (Max Rodriguez), Bugsy Bunie (Tim Simon), and Ester Bunie (Rachel McDougald). (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

These eco-activists want to let the bunnies roam free: Marchel Hare (Riley Pomeroy), Roger Babbit (J. Scott Williams), Peter Babbit (Max Lattin), Peter C. Tail (Max Rodriguez), Bugsy Bunie (Tim Simon), and Ester Bunie (Rachel McDougald). 

Here’s how Mystery Weekend works. Sleuths come to Langley and line up outside the Visitor and Information Center on Anthes Street starting at 10 a.m. Saturday or Sunday morning. There they buy a clue map for $10 ($8 for seniors and military) and are given a copy of The Langley Gazette with details of the murder.

From there, detectives fan out all over town, visiting the crime scene, picking up clues from participating merchants and interacting with the suspects, who will be in costume and whose photographs will be displayed in the windows of the Dog House.

Outspoken Langley mayoral candidate Donald Tramp (John Ball), amateur sleuth Hagetha Kisstea (Chris Williams) and Tramp’s grandson Max (Shayne Thomas). (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Outspoken Langley mayoral candidate Donald Tramp (John Ball), amateur sleuth Hagetha Kisstea (Chris Williams) and Tramp’s grandson Max (Shayne Thomas). 

When you think you know “whodunit,” enter your solution on the official contest entry form and bring it back to Mystery Weekend headquarters at 208 Anthes Street. Correct solutions will be placed in a drawing for grand prizes, provided by local innkeepers and merchants. Incorrect solutions are still eligible for other prizes.

The prize drawing will take place after the solution is announced at Langley Middle School auditorium at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28. If winners are not present, they will be notified after the finale.

For more details about Mystery Weekend, go to http://www.visitlangley.com.

Coroner’s Assistant Gussie Gruesome (Kathy Gutohrlein), Detective I. B. Fuzz (Saranell DeChambeau) and Coroner Gus Gruesome (George Gutohrlein) at the scene of the crimeon Melson Alley. (photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Coroner’s Assistant Gussie Gruesome (Kathy Gutohrlein), Detective I. B. Fuzz (Saranell DeChambeau) and Coroner Gus Gruesome (George Gutohrlein) at the scene of the crimeon Melson Alley.

Betty Freeman works for the Langley Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the annual Mystery Weekend.

All Photos by Sharon Lundahl.

__________________

CLICK HERE to read more WLM stories and blogsHave a great story idea? Let us know at info@whidbeylifemagazine.org.

WLM stories and blogs are copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Linking is permitted. To request permission to use or reprint content from this site, email info@whidbeylifemagazine.org.

 

 

Like this article? Please share it.

Leave a Reply