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PREVIEW: The Old Log’s Plan to Get Away With Murder

A promotional image for the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which begins previews October 18 at the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior, MN.

It’s not every day that a theatre plans to commit mass murder and get away with it. However, the Old Log Theatre – a longtime fixture of the western suburbs’ theatre scene, the kind of pleasant old fellow you’d never expect – is planning to do just that. If all goes well, the company will be amassing a 50-person body count per week…for about four months.

“Technically, we’re only killing 10 people a week,” said the Old Log’s Maureen Kvam. “But we are killing them each five times a week. Do try the Belladonna cocktail at Cast & Cru after the show.”

Most mass murderers keep their plans under wraps. Rather astonishingly, the Old Log’s plans have been published under the title A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and are available for rent through New York City-based Musical Theatre International. It just goes to show that you can buy (or rent) anything in wicked New York.

The cast of actors gathered by director Eric Morris for this villainy seemed unaware of the diabolical plans laid for them. “Murder?” said actor David Beukema when contacted by our staff. “I’m sure that you’re exaggerating. Max Wojtanowicz is the nicest guy on the planet. There’s no way that he would ever do me any haaaaa-” before being cut off by falling into Lake Minnetonka.

Actor David Beukema as various incarnations of the D’Ysquith family in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Photo courtesy of the Old Log Theatre.

As Beukema was fished from the lake by a Good Samaritan/stage manager, Morris was overheard whispering to Wojtanowicz, “Don’t worry, we’ll get him – I mean, we’ll get it right – in rehearsal.”

This isn’t the first time that the Old Log has tangled with crime. In 2018, a Star Tribune investigation found that the theatre was hosting illegal bets on horse races, crap games in the sewers, and a never-fully-explained set of misbehavior involving the Salvation Army. Artistic director R. Kent Knutson, who was identified as the ringleader, dismissed the hullabaloo as “just a spat between some Guys and some  Dolls.” No charges were filed connected to that incident, despite the Star Tribune‘s own Ed Huyck calling it “a sure bet.”

The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department could not be reached for comment at press time.

A promotional image for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder tells the story of a distant heir to a family fortune setting out to speed up the line of succession by using a great deal of charm… and a dash of murder. Written by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, the show took home four Tony Awards in 2014, including Best Book and Best Musical. The Old Log production is directed by Eric Morris and stars Max Wojtanowicz as the socially mobile, morally dubious, and roguishly charming Monty Navarro. He is joined by Deidre Cochran (as Miss Shingle), Emily Scinto (as Sibella Hallward), Elizabeth Hawkinson (as Phoebe D’Ysquith), David Beukema (as The D’Ysquith Family), and an ensemble including Gabriel Sell, Suzie Juul, Luke Davidson, Sharayah Lynn Bunce, and Caleb Michael.

Previews for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder begin October 18 at the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior, MN. The show formally opens on October 24 and runs through February 15, 2020.

Basil Considine