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Madhatters production of 'Prescription: Murder' is this week

Lt. Columbo (Kevin Tendall), right, investigates the murder of Claire Flemming (Gillette Kempf), laying on the floor, along with Dr. Roy Flemming (Doug Curtis) and Susan Hudson (Madeline McCoy).1 / 3
Madeline McCoy and Doug Curtis rehearsed their lines for the Madhatters production "Prescription: Murder."2 / 3
Heather Pearson plays the role of Miss Petrie in "Prescription: Murder."3 / 3

Madhatters Community Theatre presents "Prescription: Murder" this week in Wadena.

Performances are at 7 p.m. March 31-April 2 and at 2 p.m. April 3 at Wadena Memorial Auditorium.

Prescription: Murder was the inspiration for the popular television series Columbo. It tells the story of a brilliant psychiatrist and his mistress who hatch a plot to murder his neurotic, possessive wife. Lt. Columbo must engage the psychiatrist in a duel of wits.

It was written by William Link and Richard Levinson and presented by special arrangement with Samuel French.

Michelle Curtis directs the Madhatters production.

"It starts out with a murder, which is how the episodes of the TV show started," she said. "From there Columbo works to solve the case and there are plenty of twists and turns and a big twist at the end. There are some really lovely moments."

Kevin Tendall plays Columbo, a rumpled police official of indeterminate age. He seems to be bumbling and vague, with an overly apologetic, almost deferential manner. This masks an innate shrewdness and foxy knowledge of human nature.

Doug Curtis plays Dr. Roy Flemming, a polished, urbane New York psychiatrist in his forties. Highly civilized, pragmatic, with a cold, functioning intelligence.

Gillette Kempf plays Claire Flemming, the wife of Roy, and a brittle, sardonic product of New York's East side.

Heather Pearson plays Miss Petrie, a pleasant, efficient woman with a genuine liking for people.

Madeline McCoy plays Susan Hudson, a young woman who is not particularly complicated. As the play progresses she shows the burden of the increasing tension.

David Sepanski plays Dave Gordon, a smooth, boyish lawyer with his eye on a political future.

Prescription: Murder was first presented at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco on Jan. 20, 1962.

The play is a drama but includes several comedic moments. Many of the actors will be recognized from previous roles with Madhatters.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door for adults and $5 in advance, $7 at the door for students. Children 10 and under are free.

Prescription: Murder will also be performed as a dinner theater experience this summer at Elmers Texas Barbeque on Otter Tail Lake Aug. 5-7 and Aug. 12-31. Watch for more information this summer.

The production of Prescription: Murder is funded in part by the Five Wings Arts Council as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the voters of Minnesota.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561