Gateway: Living

‘Murder Inn’ at Gig Harbor High a delightful Whodunit

In trepidation, a group of Murder Inn guests, Kaitlyn Rauch as “Muriel,” Megan Churness as “Grace,” Elsie Shaw understudying “Doris,” Cameron Showalter as “Todd,” Eleanor Home as “Ellen, and Oliver Strachan understudying “Jake” await as Jake, the innkeeper’s son, returns from investigating the upstairs.
In trepidation, a group of Murder Inn guests, Kaitlyn Rauch as “Muriel,” Megan Churness as “Grace,” Elsie Shaw understudying “Doris,” Cameron Showalter as “Todd,” Eleanor Home as “Ellen, and Oliver Strachan understudying “Jake” await as Jake, the innkeeper’s son, returns from investigating the upstairs. Special to the Gateway

It’s theater time again. Last week Gig Harbor High’s drama team let me share dress rehearsal of their up-coming production of “Murder Inn,” which is set in present day New England.

The murder mystery comedy, perfect for the whole family, is set in at the Barnsley Inn, a dilapidated 18th century inn, which is supposedly haunted by Marco, a knife-throwing poltergeist. A group of tourists on a tour with Ghosts and Ghouls of New England is forced by a storm to make an unscheduled stop at the Barnsley. What looks to be an unpleasant and uncomfortable detour soon turns into a night of mayhem and madness as knives begin to pop up … in the most unexpected places. As the storm builds and the body count rises, the survivors try to figure out “who done it” and even more importantly who’s likely to have it done to them next?

Murder Inn is by Washington authors Howard Voland and Keith McGregor and was first presented at Off The Wall Theatre in Monroe in April 2000.

Playing Patricia Simpson, a guest at the Barnsley Inn, senior Julie Ronning enjoys “the wonderful people we get to work and share this experience with! I love all the energy, creativity, and fun they bring to their characters and to the theater every day.”

Sophomore Jackson Rigglesford, who plays Jake Talbot, the son of the owner, agreed: “The show experience is being able to work on a production with such wonderful, talented and amazing people. This production shows what happens when a lot of talented people come together to tell a story and to just have fun doing it.”

Stage manager Brianna Roppolo, a junior, enjoys “working with a close-knit group every day to construct a beautiful set and an amazing production that we all enjoy taking part in. The story is full of hilarious sarcasm and wit, all wrapped together with a good ol’ murder mystery and a knife-crazed poltergeist. It’s a great story for all ages to enjoy.”

For Gracie McClendo, a freshman and understudy for Carolyn, “It’s eerie, funny, and bottom line entertaining. It’s a really fun play that will have you at the edge of your seat!”

Playing Agnes Tate, a rich and reluctant guest at the Barnsley Inn, senior Sydney Underwood’s favorite aspect of the show “is getting to act with all the friends I’ve made over the years and getting to finally use fake blood in a show! Who wouldn’t want to see a murder mystery comedy?”

Martha Talbot, owner of Barnsley Inn, is played by senior Sara Kroon for whom, “all of my hilarious and loving friends make this a show people should come see.”

Classmate Jordan Greene, who plays Carolyn Pickett, Agnes’ niece and guest at the Barnsley Inn, says “acting alongside my best friends is the greatest gift I could’ve asked for in my senior year. You should see the show because it’s charming and suspenseful and you will die laughing. No pun intended.”

Being backstage and the hectic dance that moves behind the curtains is the delight of senior Samantha Fritze, sound co-head and hair crew chief. She also loves “the almost family-like dynamic the cast and crew feel together.” She feels the show is “really exciting and suspenseful, but don’t worry you’ll laugh, too!”

Sophomore Cameron Showalter plays Todd Currier, the son of Lawrence and fellow guest at the Barnsley Inn, and “getting to meet amazing people and getting to learn new things about theatre,” is his delight. “The show is full of mystery, laughter, and an overall fun time.”

Props mistress Anya DeGroot, a freshman, loves “making friends with the rest of the cast and crew and watching the show we’ve created play out before our eyes! We’ve worked nonstop to make the funny murder mystery the best it’s ever been. We hope people enjoy seeing it as much as we’ve had making it.”

Sophomore Maleija Mamea plays Doris Brooks and relishes “getting to meet different people and finding your character. ‘Murder Inn’ is full of laughs and mystery. Everyone worked so hard to make this happen.”

Megan Churness, a junior, plays Grace Sharp and feels “(a) sense of accomplishment. Each time we remember a line or block out a scene I feel such pride for everyone’s hard work. We are family! You definitely will appreciate what we are doing here.”

Senior Robert Jones, playing Donald, the tour bus driver who is also stranded at the Barnsley Inn, feels, “The moment before the show opens, when I can sit down and look back to the very beginning, the little time lapse in my head where I can visualize the very first read through, and every little moment on the way, every difficulty and challenge, I can finally appreciate exactly what they were all for. There’s nothing quite like taking a moment to compare our first rehearsals to our incredible and polished performances. Come enjoy a little bit of lighthearted murder with us!”

Wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Murder Inn show dates and times: 7 p.m. Nov 10-12 with 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 12; 7 p.m. Nov 16-18 with 1 p.m. matinee Nov. 18. Run time is two hours, including one intermission. Tickets, available at the door, are $8 students/seniors, $10 adults. For more information, visit

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at