• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford Theatre’s ‘Deathtrap’ features local favorites

PATTI HEYING, who lives here, directs three local favorites, including Eric Johnson and Gina Scott-Lynaugh, pictured at right, in “Deathtrap,” which opens at the Woodford Theatre this Friday night at 8. Sherry Thompson, the third local actor, could not come to Monday night’s rehearsal because she was stuck in a snowstorm in Chicago. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Upcoming performances of Woodford Theatre’s “Deathtrap” will feature the onstage talents of Woodford County actors Eric Johnson as Sydney Bruhl, Sherry Jackson as Myra Bruhl and Gina Scott-Lynaugh as Helga Ten Dorp.

Directed by Patti Heying, who also lives here, “Deathtrap” uses plot twists to tell the story of a once successful playwright (Sydney) struggling to write his next hit when a student (Clifford Anderson) brings him a brilliant new script with blockbuster potential. Sydney then conceives a plan to snare the script and credit for its creation in this stage play that holds the record as the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway.

“This is a really smart play,” says Heying. “It’s not a play within a play, but really is a master class in how to write a comedy thriller.”

Scott-Lynaugh says she hadn’t read Ira Levin’s script, but has always loved working with Heying. “So that’s the main reason I auditioned,” she says.

Scott-Lynaugh later learned that Levin wrote the novel “The Boys from Brazil,” which she liked, and uncovered the wacky physic in his “Deathtrap” script.

“It’s a character role, which I really love doing,” she says. “They’re fun scenes. I make my appearance and leave. Make my appearance and leave. Make my appearance and leave.”

“Steals the show and leaves. Steals the show and leaves,” corrects Johnson, evoking laughter from both.

The Woodford County actors say they have never worked together before, but are enjoying their time being a part of this small cast. Because of the cast’s onstage experience, Heying says, “They made my job so easy.”

“It’s really been a complete joy to work with all of the folks who are in the show,” she adds.

Not only are Johnson and Thompson convincing as a married couple, says Heying, but Forrest Loeffler and Johnson “clicked at auditions” as Clifford and Sydney.

“Actually,” says Johnson, “it’s like I’m up there with my junior doppelganger.”

Like Scott-Lynaugh, Johnson says he wasn’t very familiar with the stage version of “Deathtrap,” written in 1978, or the 1982 film adaptation starring Michael Caine as Sydney and Christopher Reeve as Clifford, but after reading the script, “… I was very excited.”

“It’s a witty play. Even though it’s a thriller and gets a little bloody, it’s also very funny,” says Johnson.

Performances of “Deathtrap” are Feb. 1 to 3, 8 to 10 and 14 to 17, with a special performance Thursday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night performances are at 8, with Sunday matinees starting at 2 p.m.

For tickets ($22 for adults and $15 for students), visit woodfordtheatre.com or call Woodford Theatre’s box office at 873-0648.

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