haunted whodunit musical comes to Heyde Center
Long-time Valley residents and theater enthusiasts Jerry and Carol Way are grabbing the attention of Chippewa Valley residents once again as they continue rehearsals for their upcoming “mystery musical comedy ghost story” Gatsby’s Supper Club. This talented husband-and-wife duo has taught music and art at local schools for years and produced other hometown favorites such as Chippewa Falls: The Musical, which was an enormous success in 2011.
The couple leaves writing, score, and direction to Jerry Way, and the artistic direction up to Carol. The script and songs are based on eccentric, hilarious, and memorable experiences that Jerry has had while performing in various northern Wisconsin supper clubs over the past twenty-plus years. Essentially the musical takes place in a typical Wisconsin steakhouse that was a famous gangster hideout during Prohibition and is haunted by a tenant ghost. It is a supposedly stormy night in 1962 and the quirky customers are pulled into an inexplicable mystery.
The performance is a truly amusing experience that depends on mild audience contribution “in sorting out clues to solve the crime in this tuneful, rib tickling, love letter to the traditional Wisconsin supper clubs we all know and love,” as the Ways put it. The atmosphere features “regulars” performing at the piano bar, a plethora of beyond-fascinating characters, and 10 original songs that are influenced by the style of 60s pop music.
This production may seem to be primarily a musical, but it also powerfully reflects the qualities of a comedy, a ghost story, and a whodunit, which together offers something desirable for almost anybody.