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‘Hush’: A murder mystery cabaret


By Owen Bryant

It’s safe to assume that many of the local theatre-going crowd are familiar with The Theatre on Keystone Avenue, and its acclaimed resident production, Magique. But last month, they became host to a new, limited-run production called Hush, by local vaudeville troupe Rogue Worx.

A saucy cabaret-style murder mystery, Hush is the second Rogue Worx production to take the Theatre’s stage. Initially it was only set for three performances in February but was recently extended through the end of March. A madcap combination of music, dance, acrobatics, and intrigue, Hush is Rogue Worx letting Reno know they’re back for blood.

The last effort by this company was last year’s #Millenial. The talent and overall production themselves were decent, but it didn’t quite fully gel around the Millenial theme, which detracted a bit from its overall cohesiveness. What was billed as a “cirque-style” show was more of a run-of-the-mill vaudeville show—again, not bad, just not quite what was expected. Hush is a significant improvement. It is much more put-together and delivers just what it promises: a high energy, immersive murder mystery.

The show opens with creator and producer Sarah Sperber singing a sultry rendition of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun,” setting the story in a vaguely 19th century New Orleans. The “house” is a brothel, inhabited by a band of ladies and gents of the night, overseen by the house madam played by local drag artist Aspen Meadows, who, as in #Millenial, sort of doubles as the show’s emcee and comedic outlet.

The story centers around the murder of one Denver Slick, whose personal entanglements could lead to a wide range of suspects. In a series of acts, members of the ensemble sing, dance, perform various acrobatics, and even roller skate break dance their way through the story. A standout number saw two ladies of the cast perform a tandem aerial silk number while blindfolded, artistically suggesting a lesbian lovemaking session.

I must say, this isn’t like watching a fully scripted dinner theatre murder mystery. In fact, as with #Millenial, the focus is still more on the performances rather than the thematic substance. But with more of a cohesive idea, costumes, and a basic plot to move things forward, Hush manages to present a show that keeps your attention with some dazzling moments. This is a cabaret show, after all, so a fully fleshed story might overwhelm the talent the show aims to highlight.

If I had one main suggestion, it would be about the pre-recorded segments in which some characters could clearly be seen reading their lines above the camera. While this is definitely not a matter of talent, it made me wonder if it was done hastily, and it did affect the immersiveness in those moments. Regardless, these little narrative interludes added to the movement of the story and kept the audience engaged.

With a runtime of roughly 75 minutes, Hush is divided into two acts with a brief intermission. It’s quite promising that it’s been extended for another month, so if you’re looking for something fun and a little bit naughty to do on a Friday night, I recommend checking this one out. The next performance dates are March 10, 17, 24, and 31. Info and tickets can be found at www.rogueworx.net/hush

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