You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter


Canyon Laker Tara Abell returns to Temescal Canyon High School to direct You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter, a comedy about an amateur production of a murder mystery that goes hopelessly awry, creating theatrical mayhem. The production runs this weekend. Photo provided by Tara Abell

Canyon Laker Tara Abell is directing Temescal Canyon High School’s (TCHS) fall production of You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter (A Murder Mystery Masterpiece of Malfunction). The production, a comedy about an amateur production of a murder mystery that goes hopelessly awry, creating theatrical mayhem, runs Oct. 12, 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. at the Temescal Canyon Jeanie Corral Performing Arts Centre.

Join members of the TCHS staff as they attempt to stage a murder mystery drama where, as the title suggests, everything that possibly could go wrong does. The over the top teachers struggle to keep the 1940’s mystery afloat, as the accident-prone actors get into mischief and even the set seems to plot against them.

You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter (begins before the curtain has even been raised, as the audience witnesses the Temescal Canyon Spotlight Players preparing to stage their fall production, which this year happens to be a 1940s murder mystery “Murder at Windward Manor House.”

With a murder having been committed in an estate isolated by a fierce rainstorm, there are multiple suspects, and a detective hell-bent on solving the crime – the perfect ingredients for a complex thriller.
As props start to disappear, actors go missing, and the set begins to malfunction, mayhem ensues, but the amateur TCHS staff struggle on, against the odds. But will they ever make the final curtain? And at what cost?

Fans of classic farce will find much to love in this comedy complete with slapstick humor, slamming doors and eager understudies. This show will appeal to anyone who has ever worked on stage or behind the scenes, giving a horrifying glimpse into the sheer number of hilarious mishaps that are prone to occurring.

As a fast-paced comedy, this play suits all ages and is particularly recommended for students who have had these performers as teachers.

The relaxed atmosphere and fast comedy is quick to poke fun at itself, and the physical humor means it can be enjoyed by a wide range of different ages and tastes.

The production is directed by Tara Abell. Tara opened the theater as a student in 1999. “The Temescal Canyon High School theater is like an old friend to me,” she said. After college, Tara returned to TCHS to teach drama and English in 2007. In 2012, she left to get married. She moved to Beverly Hills and then to Redlands. After having a baby, Tara moved back to Canyon Lake to be closer to family and TCHS.

Tara said, “I haven’t felt like myself since I left and it seemed like something was missing. I am a true, blue Titan through and through. It feels good to be back. All of the students that I had as TC Spotlight Players have graduated. I wanted to give this new generation of TC Spotlight Players an opportunity to see my process as a director before jumping into a full-fledged production with me. Our fall production will be a non-musical comedy murder mystery: starring staff members. All rehearsals were open to any student that wanted to see my style and procedures before auditioning for the spring musical.”
After reading several script options, Tara decided to just piece together a script herself. The outcome was a comedy in the Mischief Theatre style, tailored for TCHS volunteer staff members.

Staring in the production are the following staff members:

Ernie Morris: Andrew Wonacott (administration)

Millie: Tara Abell (VAPA and English)

Nagatha: Linda Nagy (former English, current substitute)
Frederick Lawrence: Steve Freers (science)
Margot Lawrence: Michelle Ritter (English)
Frances Thornwald: Mishael Swift (English)
Marnie: Christina Lofquist (English)
Judy: Valerie Vargas (English and special education)
Detective John Ferguson: Tom Collins (English)

Tickets are $12 for adults; $8 for students. For tickets and additional Information, call 951-253-7250.