Off-Off Broadway February 18, 2005
A Weapon Most Unusual
Reviewed By Jeanette Toomer
Jacqueline Hankins' latest musical murder mystery,
"A Weapon Most Unusual," retains the same engaging format of
her earlier work, utilizing filmed scenes, voiceovers, and
rhythmic music and rap, with live action taking over for most of
the production. Yet it does not sparkle like her "Cookin' the
Books" did. It has its moments, but it lacks the dramatic impact
and entertaining lyrics of its predecessor.
Keep in mind that this is a shortened version of dinner theatre
-- only 45 minutes long over brunch. This courtroom drama
involving a crime of passion features many stock characters --
the barfly witness, the attractive secretary, the jealous wife,
and the doubting defense attorney.
Several cast members make up for the paucity of originality with their exuberant
performances. Marri J. Wright as Miriam Cook, the defendant widow accused of murder,
shows magnetic energy when she testifies passionately in her own defense. Wright and
author-composer-director Hankins, who also plays defense attorney Amanda Warren,
deliver fireworks in their argumentative duet, "Get Her Off."
Veteran actress Anna Hill is deceptively humorous as the barfly witness. As Cook's
housekeeper, Ann Estill testifies to the acrimony in the marriage at home. Margaret
Wheeler sternly portrays the judge, but Laurence Alexander is inadequate as the district
attorney. Larry Antonio plays the underling envious of Cook's success, while Candace A.
Hassell is easily deceitful as the loyal secretary.
In filmed sequences, jurors in the deliberation room argue about the testimony and "the
facts," and eventually they come to a conclusion. However, there's a short scene
afterwards that reveals who the true guilty parties are. Suffice it to say that the real
culprits have their own reasons for plotting Cook's early demise.
Most of the large cast appear in the filmed sections. The jurors are Vincenzo Vaccaro,
Carmen Mathis, Leroy Hankins, Crystal Roman, Cecelia Hankins, Cory Brookshire,
Giovanni Trosa, Chris Johnson, Francesca Bellenis, Amir Levi, Thomas Blake, and
"A Weapon Most
Presented by Richard
Mamarella at the
Playwright Tavern &
Restaurant, 732 Eighth
Ave., NYC. Opened
Jan. 30 for an open run
(Saturday and Sunday