The cops leading the investigation in "The Big Hotel: A Musical Murder Mystery!" may not excel at ascertaining whodunit, but these officers of the law and their lengthy list of archetypical suspects sure can belt out a tune.
Bob McGranahan's Lake Oswego High School Musical Theatre Workshop class is performing this student-written production, which debuts this Friday and sports a room-reverberating cluster of Broadway No. 1 hits as diverse as selections from "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "Beauty and the Beast," "Phantom of the Opera," "The Rocky Horror Show." Monty Python's song-stylings also slip into the musical (They made it on Broadway, too). And McGranahan said "The Big Hotel" is stacked with characters as purple-prose-ish-ly melodramatic and incorrigibly evil as the top hat-wearing, shifty-eyed, mustache-twiddling Snidely Whiplash from the "Dudley Do-Right" cartoons.
"This is a kind of over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek murder mystery," McGranahan said.
And just as we were sure heroic Do-Right would appear to make the dastardly Mr. Whiplash (who was forever tying damsels to railroad trains) curse that he'd been foiled again, we know good will probably triumph, even if the good guys, in this case, are not especially swift. Yet we are rooting tight along with these well-meaning, good cops. Bumbling as they are, we want them to collar the criminal mastermind of the murder (or is it murders?) at The Big Hotel. "The Big Hotel" is playing for two days only, with an evening show this Friday and an evening show and matinee on Saturday.
Co-writers Julia Donahue and Taylor Larson, LOHS seniors, are humble about their "Big" creation.
Donahue quietly describes her impetus for writing as a form of fear, as in "Bob (McGranahan) said we needed a script by the end of the week."
Donahue and Larson shrugged off their inspirational works as "Serial Mom," "The Room" (the campy comedic work, not "Room" the award-winning drama), Monty Python's goofy collection of work and "Airplane!" (a B movie so slapstick-delicious and iconic that you should stop reading to watch it).
But while the writers are sweeping aside pretensions, their fans say their show has what it takes to devolve you into fits of childish laughter.
"I think the whole thing is funny," said LOHS sophomore Tatum Miller, who plays Celia May Wazowski in the show.
Gannon Connelly, an LOHS senior, said it's also amusing to play a part in the show, especially as the "idiotic detective." At one point, he shouts to the audience that there's an intermission, just to let them know. Another character in this moment of meta-theater is embarrassed by the gaffe and shouts Connelly down.
Meanwhile, LOHS junior Madison Morley revels in her role as head cook. Morley says she just likes being lit up by the spotlight.
"It's kind of magical standing up on stage and having the lights shine on you, and feeling all that warms you up inside," Morley said.
Hold your hands up to the warmth of the lights this weekend while you catch a comedic show filled with Broadway majesty.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Lake Oswego High School, 2501 Country Club Road, Lake Oswego
COST: General admission is $10, while it's $5 for students and seniors
For advance tickets, visit http://www.eticketexpress.com/#/event/lohsdrama/bighotel. Or buy tickets at the door.