A few of my long-distance friends enjoy Broadway and/or Musical Theatre presentations. But since I live nowhere close to New York or any other city that hosts such cultural fare, I’ve had a difficult time attending such presentations or gaining a similar appreciation. There is a modest community theatre group in my town, and they do a reasonably good job of acting, but I’m not attracted by their offerings. To my knowledge, at least they have not presented “Moose Murders”.
The play in question is billed as a mystery farce. Unfortunately it turned out to be more of a farce than anything else. Broadway afficionados know that “Moose Murders” is the standard of horribleness, against which, all Broadway duds are judged. This infamous play subjected an audience to its one performance on February 22, 1983 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.
“Moose Murders” involves the heirs of a wealthy, but ailing, elderly gentleman named Sidney Holloway. Holloway bought the Wild Moose Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains as a productive place to live out his sunset days. To relieve boredom, one night, a family member suggests a game of “Murder”. Somehow, during the game playing, the mousey Lorraine Holloway is actually killed.
The whodoneit ensues. Is the culprit among the Holloway family? Or could the murderer be the legendary “Butcher Moose” who inhabits the mountains? As the play progresses, a series of disclosures leads to more murders. Eventually the terrible truth behind the bizzarre murders is revealed. During the single production, the audience had to endure failed humor and annoying characters.
Following its official, opening night, after some previews that were equally horrible, the play closed. New York’s critics and reviewers competed to find out who could write the most extravagantly bad review of “Moose Murders”. Even the play’s writer, Arthur Bicknell, panned his own production. Bicknell is quoted as saying, “One member of the public on seeing me on the street, shouted, ‘Officer, arrest that show'”.
On an ironic note, fans of conceptual art have expressed appreciation of “Moose Murders”. Last January, New York’s “Beautiful Soup Theater Collective” produced the play for a two-week run at the Connelly Theatre. That run yielded some “passing” good opinions. Still, it’s difficult to understand how anyone believed such a show could make money at the time.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if Arthur Bicknell was somehow influenced by Mel Brooks’ 1968 dark comedy, cult classic, “The Producers”.