A deadly play at JFK

Published 10:41 pm Saturday, January 14, 2012

There’s a mystery brewing at John F. Kennedy Middle School, and everyone is invited to take part in finding a killer.

The John F. Kennedy PTA will present “Writing Mysteries Can be Murder,” an interactive play, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Admission is free and open to the public.

Kathy Applebee, the drama club sponsor, said the play is centered on Christy Barritt, a real-life author from Chesapeake who has written six mystery novels.

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In the play, Barritt’s writing turns on her, and she ends up being hunted by a killer.

“The prime suspects all turn out to be characters from her books,” Applebee said. “They all have gripes with her.”

She said several characters have a problem with how Barritt ended their stories and might be upset enough to kill.

One character complains he never gets the girl. Another is upset he lands in prison in one novel.

It will be up to the audience to decide which character has murderous intentions before it’s too late.

Applebee said she has been helping Barritt adapt her writing to the stage for the past few years, and this time, John F. Kennedy students are helping.

Five students will portray some of Barritt’s characters alongside some professional actors from throughout the area who are performing.

“This way our kids get to work with people who get paid to act,” Applebee said. “It’s a fun way for our students to read books and analyze the characters well enough so they can become the character.”

She selected students who are most committed to acting, because they are required to do more than learn lines — they have to improvise some of the dialogue and work with adults.

Applebee said she thinks it’s great experience for them.

At the conclusion of the play, Barritt and the actors will answer questions from the audience.

Applebee said Barritt and the actors will discuss why it’s important to stay in school and how a good education relates to the entertainment industry.

“I think a lot of kids think if they are going to be a football player or actor they don’t need how to read and all that,” she said. “I think it will be good for them to also know what they are learning in middle school will have application in life.”

Applebee also hopes students will learn how difficult it is to become an actor.

“Hopefully, this will open their eyes and dispel the fallacy that many careers, like acting, just happen to them,” she said. “Any of the actors will tell them it’s a lot of hard work.”

Applebee hopes everyone will attend the play.

“For kids, it’s a great opportunity to actually meet somebody who writes and gets published or acts on stage and ask questions,” she said. “For adults, this is a great way to be entertained and have fun, but it’s also a great way to inspire their kids.”