While I was associate editor, later editor of The Courier in the 1970s and 1980s, we often asked young college students to cover entertainment in Monmouth County and write their reviews for The Courier. Here’s one written by my daughter, Kathy Smith, in 1976 when she was a freshman at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., but home frequently, especially when some of her favorite people were performing in one of her favorite places.
By Kathy Smith
ATL. HIGHLANDS – For those who have never been to a dinner theater at the Shore Casino, this is the month to do it.
Sleuth is a play in two acts by Anthony Shaffer that opened under the direction of Jan Edward, hailed as one of New York’s brightest young directors and recently the director of the Shadowbrook presentations.
Although it played to a sparse audience the production is a superb rendition of an excellent play.
The two main characters are portrayed by Robert Clarke and Robert Waldron who all but steal the show. The two also produced the presentation and have given the world an excellent example of how well their talents blend.
Clark sets the mood as Andrew Wyke, a well-to-do writer whose specialty is detective stories. He reads from his manuscript and as always the police are stumped by obvious clues. Enter the amateur sleuth who is in all Wyke’s books, discovers the clues and cracks the case to the derision of the hapless police.
Clarke’s British accent is convincing if you assume it isn’t the real thing in the first place. His ability to establish mood is remarkable. He is intent, conniving, pensive and petrified all with startling conviction.
Costar Bob Waldron is equally talented and equally pleased with his work. Neither overshadows the other although both excel compared to the other three characters in the mystery. Waldron’s most impressive quality is his facial expressions. Don’t miss them, they’re phenomenal! His face turns various shades of red with each mood, and his eyes reflect his thoughts of Milo Tindle, a travel agent interested in Wyke’s wife.
Inspector Doppler, played by Bret Rowan Lord was also convincing coming close to the performances of Clark and Waldron. He is a clever detective in the play with a cunning mind and probing eyes. His main concern is with an alleged murder. He feels certain of the murderer’s identity and confronts him with the evidence. As in Wyke’s books, clues are obvious and riddles provide hints.
Trowler Brando and Daron B. Walter are Detective Sgt. Tarrant and police constable Higgs. Both are believable and enjoyable but fail to be fully brought into the spotlight because of the overwhelming performances of the two main characters.
Basically, the play concerns itself with two murders and a jewel robbery. The suspect couldn’t be the butler, there isn’t one, and surprises are abundant throughout the two acts, even though clues are obvious and will distributed throughout the play.
Sleuth is definitely the hit of the evening at the Shore Casino and well worth the ticket price alone But the added bonus of a Shore Casino dinner make it the most enjoyable bargain of the century. The entire evening is excellent with unforgettable entrees, waitresses pleasant and friendly and the show is superb.
The setting is a British country home and is perfect to the smallest detail A stone wall provides the backdrop and a coat of arms completes the look. Books are cluttering the massive desk, Goldfish are even swimming happily in an aquarium.
To say more would ruin the full effect of the play, since the element of surprise is important. Curtain time is at 8:30 (7:30Sundays) and dinners are served from 7.We’d suggest arriving close to 7 so you can enjoy a leisurely meal before curtain time. Another idea is ordering a bottle of wine for sipping pleasure during the play. Naturally there are no orders taken during the presentation, but the waitresses are busy and efficient during intermission.
And after the show, the actors mingle with the audience, getting their reactions and opinions and answering their questions.
An awesome experience for those who like to chat first hand with the stars.
The play is an absolute must if you like great enjoyment and this cast deserves a good audience. They really give their all. Make your reservations, see for yourself, and you’ll agree.