When ‘Murder Runs in the Family’

 Detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo), while hiding behind the couch, overhears a conversation between Claude Purdy (Justin Ormsbee) and Patricia Purdy (Nicole Cleland), not pictured.

Detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo), while hiding behind the couch, overhears a conversation between Claude Purdy (Justin Ormsbee) and Patricia Purdy (Nicole Cleland), not pictured.

Henley High’s comedy murder mystery runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday

A suspicious death. Eclectic family members. And more than one will from deceased patriarch Bernard Pallfeather, which is to be read at midnight.

Wisecracking detective Jack Sparks has his work cut out for him: Protecting Heather Pallfeather, while investigating the death of the family’s patriarch -- and determining who is murdering the rest of the family.

Henley High School drama program’s first performance of the school year is a comedy murder mystery, Pat Cook’s “Murder Runs in the Family.” The play will be performed at 7 p.m., Nov. 8, Nov. 9, and Nov. 10 at Henley High’s Hampton Theater. Tickets are available in advance at the high school office or at the door. Admission is $5 for students and seniors and $7 for adults.

The play, directed by Henley drama teacher Jennifer Olson and retired educator Cleora Hampton, has a cast of 12. The drama program graduated 15 seniors last year and theater-goers will see some new faces as well as veteran actors and crew members from past years.

 Matriarch and widow, Mirium Pallfeather (Brianna Eichelkraut), talks with her butler Montgomery (Elle Larson) during a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family.

Matriarch and widow, Mirium Pallfeather (Brianna Eichelkraut), talks with her butler Montgomery (Elle Larson) during a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family.

Heather Pallfeather, the female lead, is played by Kate Harter, a senior, who transferred to Henley this fall from California. Junior Victor Manzo takes the male lead as detective Jack Sparks, who tries to remain undercover as Heather’s fiancée.

Manzo said he enjoyed wise-cracking, outgoing character of Sparks. “The hardest part for me was to bring that out,” he said.  “It was fun to bring it onto the stage.”

Harter said getting into her character was easy. “For me, I kind of align with her,” she said. “I just love her sarcasm. I love my interactions with my siblings in the play. It’s really, really funny.”

The play takes place the night the Pallfeathers gather to hear the reading of the patriarch’s will. But which “will” will it be? The one switched by the ex-con son-in-law and his wife? The one swapped by the crazy aunt? Or one of the other "wills?" Meanwhile, the bodies begin to pile up.

 Maxine Pallfeather (Esme Murillo) throws detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo) over the couch while demonstrating her knowledge of martial arts during a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family.

Maxine Pallfeather (Esme Murillo) throws detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo) over the couch while demonstrating her knowledge of martial arts during a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family.

“It’s not your elementary comedy. There’s some parts in it, you know, like some scandalous parts. …We talk about Congress,” Harter said laughing. “Really, it’s a great play.”

For an added twist, Henley High School’s secretary, Kevin Worden, makes his “acting” debut as the deceased patriarch – his is the face in the framed photograph of Bernard Pallfeather displayed prominently on the fireplace mantel throughout the play.

The actors and production crew have been working since the second week of September, and they say, they are ready for opening night.

“It’s come together so much,” Manzo said. “Everyone’s flowing. The crew is essential; there’s a lot of timing. It’s a very timed comedy.”

The cast includes Victor Manzo, Kate Harter, Elle Larson, Brianna Eichelkraut, Justin Ormsbee, Nicole Cleland, Esme Murrillo, Kira Driscoll, Star Murillo, Annika Rogers, Haley Braswell and David Serrano. Production crew includes Sydney Groff, Fawn Harris, Bella Felder, Annika Rogers, Danielle Herincks, Megan Ormsbee, Shianne Baker, Tayla Gale, Rigo Cruz, Abby Williams and Dazen Bland.

Press release provided from the Klamath County School District.

 During a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family, Heather Pallfeather (Kate Harter) steps over a murdered Western Union messenger (Haley Braswell) to read the message being held undercover detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo).

During a scene in Henley High School’s production of Murder Runs in the Family, Heather Pallfeather (Kate Harter) steps over a murdered Western Union messenger (Haley Braswell) to read the message being held undercover detective Jack Sparks (Victor Manzo).