Actually, this all began on June 21, 2013 when I opened the Alamogordo Daily News and removed a weekly insert titled "Vamonos-weekly arts and entertainment." On the front cover was eight portraits of interestingly named actors involved in "The Jade Bracelet". Not only were they an odd looking cast of characters, but their names were quite creative as well. After reading a synopsis of this play, I determined that we (my husband, Doug, and I) should definitely go see it.
When I called to make reservations, I got none other but the playwright, Blake Martin, on the other end of the phone. During our conversation, we made arrangements for tickets to be picked up at the door and I to mail a check for same. The play takes place in Ruidoso, New Mexico's Old Mill, the oldest building in Ruidoso. This building reeks with history going back to 1868 and having gone through numerous owners. The current owner is Delana Clements and she struggles to keep the Old Mill open and available for various styles of entertainment.
The Jade Bracelet is a murder mystery concert. Upon arriving, we find chairs fairly close to the stage. It is later explained that the chairs are borrowed from a local church when an event is planned. A boy about age nine is walking down the aisle with a big tub containing different types of water guns and we are each invited to pick one. Another couple arrives and sits in our row who live in Ruidoso in the summer time and return to Granbury, Texas, their home for the remainder of the year.
For the first hour we are thoroughly entertained by Mama Hottie and the Sterilizers, three talented musicians playing various instruments. Mama Hottie (Deanna Martin) sings and plays bass guitar, bongos and a Djembe, a goblet shaped hand-played drum from West Africa. Mama Hottie also plays the role of Aurora Borealis in the play. Tim McCasland plays banjo and the Dobro, an acoustic guitar with a conical resonator resulting in a larger, richer sound. His role in the play is that of Ol' Two Legg Johnsons. Blake Martin plays lead guitar and sings. Not only is he the playwright, but his role is as Leff Hook Smiff.
The play opens with The Jade Bracelet being set up to be auctioned and several actors and members of the audience receive numbered tickets for later. The rest of the cast includes Ken Duke as Billy the Dostoevsky who is a gambler who wants to auction the priceless JADE BRACELET to cover his gambling debts and he unwittingly becomes the victim; Taylor Appel as Effie Cook, a beatnik poet who thinks she can disappear at will. She seems to have a thing for Billy, or is it for the JADE BRACELET?; Mike Buckley as Gordon Gutman is a U.S. spy who has...lets just say...he's been in the field too long. He has two followers, aliens from a UFO, well played by Beth DeFoor and Vicki Buckley; Noa Martin as Anna Vladimir appears to be visiting the U.S. from Russia in search of state spoons among other things; Spade Holmes P. I. is played by Phillip Appel who was hired by the victim to be his strong arm. The play is directed by Laurel Appel.
At one point in the play when Spade Holmes P. I. is trying to solve the crime, he asks, "Who in this room has a gun?" The audience immediately holds up their water guns as does Ol' Two Legg Johnsons.
This was an unusual venue as you will see by the pictures to follow and this murder mystery concert was creative, innovative and just plain fun for the audience as well as the actors. Congratulations to Blake Martin, Playwright extraordinaire, and the fabulous cast!
|The room is long and narrow with the stage at one end|
|Our hostess and Old Mill owner, Delana Clements|
|Noa Martin (Anna Vladimir) walking toward the stage|
|Billy the Dostoevsky (red shirt) and, far right, Spade Holmes P. I. discuss auctioning the JADE BRACELET|
|Playwright Blake Martin (Leff Hook Smiff)|
|Director Laurel Appel|
|Tim McCasland (Ol' Two Legg Johnsons) playing some fine music on his Dobro|
|Deanna Martin (Aurora Borealis/Mama Hottie) giving out with a fine beat on her Djembe|
|Taylor Appel (Effie Cook) in black|
|An eerie shot of the aliens, Beth DeFoor and Vicki Buckley|
|Mike Buckley (Gordon Gutman), a slightly confused U.S. spy with his alien followers|
|Mama Hottie and the Sterilizers with victim, Billy the Dostoevsky|
Thanks, Doug, for your photography work under trying circumstances.
This is all I have to say for now.