Mammoth Lakes Repertory brings ‘Dial M for Murder’ to Edison Theatre for three-week run

Whodunit fans will have a thrilling murder mystery on their hands when the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre debuts “Dial M for Murder” at Edison Theatre on March 31.

Written by Frederick Knott and directed by Shira Dubrovner, Dial M enjoyed a long run on Broadway before it was transformed into the infamous Hitchcock thriller released by Warner Brothers in 1954.

The cast of local residents begins with Clay Tyson as Tony Wendice, a retired professional tennis player with a jealous penchant for killing his wealthy wife, Margot Wendice. A newcomer to the stage, Tyson is a ski instructor on Mammoth Mountain and loves the theater. “He’s working so hard,” Dubrovner said.

Jessica Blum, last seen as Anne Frank, is blossoming in the role of Margot Wendice, according to Dubrovner.

“She captures that innocent, kind, sweet vulnerability of the role” that was inhabited by Grace Kelly in the 1954 movie.

Ted Carleton, whom audiences loved in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “I Hate Hamlet,” is back on stage as Max Halliday, Margot’s lover and the murderer’s nemesis. This role was deftly played in the movie by the late Robert Cummings.

“The reason I like doing these plays is because I think it’s important to get out of one’s comfort zone every once in awhile. And it’s fun,”’ Carleton said.

Grant Bentley (Inspector Hubbard) was last seen as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.

Scottie Marzonie is Captain Lesgate, the con artist Tony Wendice hires to kill his wife. A veteran of the annual murder mystery, this is Marzonie’s first play.

But there’s no such thing as a perfect murder, and this nailbiter makes director Shira Dubrovner happy as a fresh snowfall.

Dial M is Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Shira Dubrovner’s most recent suspense thriller since she directed the highly reviewed Los Angeles run of Ira Levin’s Veronica’s Room in 2006.

“It’s always fun to thrill an audience,” said Dubrovner about directing Dial M. “The challenge is to help the audience predict what’s going to happen before the characters onstage know.

“ It’s not an easy play and I’m pushing the actors. In a musical we concentrate on the songs and movement. In this play we concentrate on the acting. It’s a wordy, well-written play.

“I love thrillers and mysteries,” Dubrovner said. “It’s fun to excite the audience. Part of the challenge is in the audience starting to see things before the characters do. It’s a heavy drama to sink one’s teeth into.”