Newtown’s production of ‘Prescription, Murder: A Columbo Mystery’ highlights classic detective
Town Players Little Theatre, Newtown: Why look for the old reruns of Columbo mysteries on TV when it’s live onstage in Newtown? It was a sold-out weekend and a packed house that came to see the current production of “Prescription: Murder, A Columbo Mystery,” written by Richard Levinson and William Link. While there were many Columbo fans in the audience, some younger adults quickly joined ranks and enjoyed Columbo’s nontraditional strategy for solving murder.
Instead of a “whodunit,” Columbo mysteries show the crime and the criminals up front and then leave Lt. Detective Columbo to figure out “howtocatchem.” This particular case involves a smart psychiatrist who has the perfect plan for murdering his jealous wife and living happily ever after with his young mistress. That is until Columbo comes along.
The Town Players cast delivers solid performances with A.M. Bhatt playing the lead. What is so interesting about Bhatt’s performance is that he is playing a more aggressive Columbo. Bhatt does this quite well while keeping all the character’s quirks and idiosyncrasies intact. In later years, the Columbo character became more subtle as actor Peter Falk polished the television role. Mark Rubino as the killer, Dr. Flemming, carries the role with confidence and a most appropriate touch of arrogance. Nikki Yatsenick as the mistress is quite striking as Susan Hudson. Yatsenick really gets into the character and delivers a seamless performance. She is always believable because all of her gestures and body language are unforced. She’s a natural. Sheri Rak as secretary to the doctor also delivers a fine performance and dresses perfectly for the no-nonsense, concerned receptionist and assistant. Rachel Ames is not on stage long as the doctor’s wife, but she is good enough to be memorable. Joshua Adelson and Joy Harris complete the cast and make the most of their moments on stage.
Michele Leigh directs this production with precision that pays off, especially with the timing and the revolving flat that works like a charm in a production that requires important set changes. Kirk Dugan and Al Chiappetta designed the set and Beck Venable is the backdrop artist. Jeffrey Bukowski is the stage combat specialist who made the murder scene very realistic. Nick Kaye designed the lights and sound.
Overall, this is a fine production playing through Dec. 7 with a talented cast and production crew. Whether you are a Columbo fan or not, you should see this show.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.