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Middle School dazzles with a musical murder mystery

Fifth- and sixth-grade students practice after school for their upcoming numbers in the musical murder mystery <I>Oh Horrors! It’s Murder!<I> It was all business while rehearsing the song <I>Monsters and Murderers<I> under Michelle Schmitt’s direction. (Photo by Sarah Young)1 / 2
Dylan Sweet, who plays reporter Russ Palmer in the play, takes his reporting duties very seriously while being interviewed himself. (Photo by Sarah Young)2 / 2

Choral teacher Michelle Schmitt has wanted to direct a musical murder mystery for some time, and Oh Horrors! It’s Murder! was the one chosen for fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Croix Central Middle School to perform for their annual fall play.

Schmitt’s co-director, social studies teacher Dawn Mohn, described the production as fun and clever. Schmitt said she likes it because it’s different from anything they’ve ever done.

“I think the audience will like the music and choreography best,” Mohn said. “The acting and dialogue is pretty good too and it creates a lot of interest. Parents will like seeing their kids acting, too.”

Schmitt said she knows the audience will enjoy all the cute songs and figuring out who the killer is in this “whodunit.”

The play begins with the audience listening to a lecture on monsters, murderers and madmen by Professor Dirk Carlson, a famous Egyptologist.

The lights shut off and when they come back on, the professor is dead, and the jewel he held while lecturing is gone, according to a synopsis of the play.

The audience has to figure out if the murderer was someone in the room, or if it was the product of an evil curse.

The cast includes about 40 to 50 students who have been rehearsing since late September, Mohn said. She has directed about 20 plays at SCC, while Schmitt said she has directed a few, but been in many productions throughout her career.

Student Dylan Sweet, dressed in his reporter’s costume, complete with pad and pencil, said he’s most excited for his solo.

Emma Knospe, who plays Elena Newman, was poised and confident.

“I was in the play last year and I’m used to big crowds,” Knospe said. “I’m a dancer.”

Logan Johnson, who plays Lt. Dan Morrow, is excited to see the audience’s reaction to all their hard work.

“Last year being in the play was fun,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction to who did it.”

Schmitt said, while getting ready for the play has been fun, it’s been hard too, because the material is challenging.

“There’s a lot of lines with tough words,” Schmitt said. “There’s a lot going on, so they have to keep the story straight.”

The show will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the middle school. Tickets will be sold at the door of the auditorium for $2 for adults and $1 for students. Admission for pre-school age kids is free.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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