Following a myriad of seedy characters that make up the cast and crew of the hit soap opera “Take Back the Night,” 13 Past Midnight depicts the playing of a murder mystery game derived from the likes of Clue–except this time, the murder is real. A rollercoaster ride full of comedy and irresistable mystery, Fullerton College’s production defines theatrics.
Clamoring into the main room upon the discovery of the “murder,” each character becomes visibly relieved by their respective acts of catharsis, each having taken their anger towards Victor out on the dummy by poisoning, stabbing, shooting, hanging, and smothering it.
Playing along with the game, they each then act excessively surprised, and completely conspicuous. In this one moment–from the muted reactions of the elderly Talbert Worthington (Erik Boucher) and Louise Burke (Chere Yurina), The effervescent gasps and cries of Toni Crawford (Ana Fujimoto) and Lila Lamont (Thea McLean), to the hot and heavy makeout session of Zara Dare (Emily Flosi) and Chad Martin (Zac Thorn)–the actors captivate the audience with dynamic presences.
Each character has their own personality that matches and clashes with the rest, making for instant immersion among the audience moving about the set with purpose and mingling like the old friends they are meant to be portraying.
Flosi as Zara and Thorn as Chad are an exuberant pair that perfectly encapsulate their juvenile and manipulative characters as, together, they sashay across the stage and command attention. Depicting Chad’s arrogant naivete, Thorn follows Flosi around like a lovesick puppy, and annoys those around him with profuse gesticulations. And Flosi slinks around mansion with deliberation and flips her hair, acting above the rest of the cast with an air of vicious malice.
An enigma, Green as Kathryn juxtaposes her motherly grace with her ferocious anger as she tuts around the housekeepers and her friends, and screams and stomps around her husband. Similarly, McLean as Lila is incredibly emotive and intriguing, cackling like a ditz one moment and slithering around behind doors for a scoop the next. McLean does an amazing job of portraying Lila as both a superficial snake and a genius sleuth.
“Lila is described as a nosy, pushy gossip columnist, which is rough. But as you get to know her you realizes that she’s just excited, she’s just trying to get the gossip,” said McLean. “She’s a very enjoyable character to play.”
“For Lila, it’s a lot about moving your tempo and allowing yourself to be excited about everything, just because it’s exciting,” added McLean. “Getting into character is all about being open to her as a person and to embrace her.”
Alexander Ruiz is hilarious as the goofy, yet heroic, private eye Pete Griffin. A dorky and lovable detective, Ruiz is bashful when pawed by Kathryn Winslow (Samantha Green) and Gary Anderson (Justyn Franca Gonzalez), but as he struts (and stumbles) across the stage, Ruiz adds aspects of suave game to Pete. As he’s dashing, he carries Lila with the ease of superman and confronts the killer with a voice that demands obedience and harsh, deliberate movements.
Reminiscent of the bone chattering theme music of the Haunted Mansion and the bouncy, chaotic beats of BeetleJuice, the score composed by Chris Sison is pairs well with the tone of the show and aids in both joke delivery and suspicious moments. Cryptic and chilling, the interludes and special effects hammer home the 1970’s mystery game theme of the show.
“I believe that music or composition is one, or two, of the most import parts of a show,” said Sison. “It determines the character, and really defines the character in that moment.”
The cast’s individual abilities to enthrall the audience is done not only through suspicious behavior, but comedic ones as well. Together, the cast has phenomenal comedic timing as they go from one cheesy joke to the next.
“The actors are hilarious, they are owning every moment on stage. The show is super silly and a fun way to escape from the stresses of everyday life. I think that is why theatre is always, and will always be my go to,” said the show’s director Candice Clasby. “I love film, but the energy exchange between the audience and the actors on stage is not something that can be replicated. The show while structurally is the same, the audience and actor connection makes it a new experience every single night.”