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A ‘Murder’ plot at Lamplighters


Lamplighters Community Theatre at 5915 Severin Drive in La Mesa, has jumped right in both feet first in its production of Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder.” This classic crime mystery thriller was made a movie first in 1954 with Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings, and then again in 1981 with Christopher Plummer, Angie Dickinson and Ron Moody.

It is very easy to fall back and compare a live theatre production with the movie production but the audience should remember this is live theatre is and a movie is on film with many takes. With a live production, many things can happen in the moment that just doesn’t happen on film. And so it is with the stage production by Lamplighters, which is why this play may draw more audience involvement than the movie.

The story is about Tony Wendice (Pete Zanko), a former tennis pro, who wants to have his wealthy wife Margot (Anna Poteet) murdered so he can get his hands on her inheritance. When he discovers her affair with Max Halliday (Eddy Lukovic), he comes up with the perfect plan to kill her. The foolproof scheme can’t fail. Or can it?

The play is not a whodunit in the Agatha Christie mold, although there are similarly spiraling twists of logic and deduction, said director Calvin Manson. “Dial M For Murder” moves more along the lines of television’s detective series “Columbo,” in that we know who did it (or who wants to do it) and why — the questions is whether or not he’s going to get away with it.

The play’s set on the Lamplighters’ stage is convincing and clever and is punctuated by a picture on the wall that has diametrically opposing lines and colors, which seems to this viewer as a metaphor for the juxtapositions that happen throughout the play. Things and explanations seem to work – and then, do they?

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(l to r) Pete Zanko as Tony Wendice, Richard Cajka as Detective Hubbard and Anna Poteet as Mago Wendice (Photo by Kevin Phan)

The cast and crew have come with a great depth of knowledge and experience in the theatrical world and each is dedicated to making this production top notch, especially directors Calvin Manson and Tina Machele Brown.

Lamplighters Theatre adheres to all COVID protocols and the audience members are appreciative and feel confident in attending the productions at there. It was an enjoyable evening and led to some discussions as to why this or that which. after all, lets the production live on after the curtain has come down.

‘Dial M For Murder’

Written by Frederick Knott
Directed by Calvin Manson and Tina Machele Brown
Oct. 15–17
Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.
Tickets: General admission, $23; Students/Seniors/Military, $20; Groups of 10 or more, $18
Call: (619) 303-5092
Lamplighters Community Theatre
5915 Severin Drive, La Mesa

— Mickey Zeichick is president of the Associated Community Theatres. Reach her at

Source: La Mesa Currier

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