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Washington County Playhouse gives 'A Very Brady Murder' new life

Washington County Playhouse gives 'A Very Brady Murder' new life

The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater has chosen to revive the very popular “A Very Brady Murder!” for its first interactive murder mystery of 2020.

This Playhouse Studio production will open Jan. 10 at the dinner theater, which is located at the rear of 44 N. Potomac St., in the heart of Hagerstown’s Arts and Entertainment District and City Center.

Playhouse owner and Producing Artistic Director Shawn Martin said the theater did the show last January and it sold out.

“It was very popular. So we decided to offer it again,” Martin said.

He said the theater has done many different murder mysteries that spoof popular television shows and he believes nostalgia plays a big piece in their popularity.

“It’s a relaxing, funny evening for people to sort of escape,” Martin said.

The interactive spoof of the old Brady Bunch TV show joins the Brady’s after they are all grown up. They are about to celebrate Mike and Carol’s 25th anniversary when a murder occurs. Greg, Jan and Cindy are part of the story too, but where are Marcia, Peter and Bobby? Everyone is a suspect in the Playhouse’s interactive murder mystery.

Martin said the show has a lot of audience participation as they can question the suspects and record their answers in a dossier.

“We collect the dossiers and the people with the most correct answers are put into a drawing with others from that night for a drawing to win two tickets to a future production,” Martin said.

Shannen Banzhoff of Hagerstown reprises the role of Jan Brady from last year’s production.

“Much of Jan’s life, she’s been compared to Marcia, so she definitely defines herself by what others think of her. Since this show takes place many years after the TV show, Jan has grown up to try and outdo Marcia however she can. Jan has become an accomplished lawyer and makes a six-figure salary, but she still feels pushed aside by her family for Marcia,” Banzhoff said.

Banzhoff said one of her favorite moments playing the character is when Jan has just had enough of everyone talking about Marcia, so she ends up doing something which makes for a lot of fun and laughter.

“I really enjoy this moment in the show because I love trying to be as ridiculous as possible on stage with my cast and I love really making the audience laugh a lot in that moment,” she said.

Playing an iconic character like Jan Brady can be a bit of a challenge to an actor because the audience has certain expectations. Banzhoff said she enjoys being able to keep some of Jan’s classic character traits from the TV series while still being able to make her, her own character.

“It’s fun to find that balance of what will bring audiences back to watching the TV show and what will keep them laughing today,” she said.

But Banzhoff said the hardest part is probably not bursting out into laughter when the cast says or does something absolutely hilarious.

“The show is so funny and the cast members are so talented that sometimes we have a hard time not laughing at each other on stage,” she said.

Banzhoff feels the audience will appreciate the job the cast will do bringing back the nostalgia of the original TV show while still adding contemporary topical references.

“The show does a great job of reminding you why you loved the show when it originally aired and why it’s still loved today. We’ve got all the classic one-liners from the show that any Brady fan will remember,” Banzhoff said. “Plus, the script and actors are all so funny. I remember last year when we did this show, we had audiences doubled over laughing so hard and there were times that as actors, we had to take extra long pauses between lines because the audience was just laughing so hard and so loud! This show truly is a great way to chase away any winter blues.”

The show is preceded by dinner featuring dinner rolls, salad bar, hot buffet, dessert, coffee, tea and iced tea. A full-service cash bar will be available.

“A Very Brady Murder” plays Jan. 10 and 11. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7:45 p.m.

Tickets cost $53.50 and include dinner and the show. Bar tab and gratuity are not included. Tickets can be purchased at www.washingtoncounty playhouse.com or by calling 301-739-7469. Children under age 5 not admitted.

Martin suggests getting tickets to the show early as last year’s run did sell out.

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