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Classic Hollywood is Back With a Vengeance

October 20, 2022

Nothing is at it seems in Smoke & Mirrors, a comedic murder mystery about a band of Hollywood creatives who only care about one thing more than themselves: guaranteeing that their latest film will be a box office smash hit.

Hamilton is an enterprising Hollywood director, consumed by a scandalous vision for the film. Clark is a frenzied screenwriter who is fiercely determined that his script will be completely unadulterated this time – with not one comma out of place! Barbara is an alluring publicist with a strong propensity for highly creative, head-scratching metaphor. And Derek is a dim-witted actor and the star of the group’s newest film.

“This cast of quirky yet classic characters are really the key to this comedic murder mystery,” said Director Catherine Randazzo. “A storyline filled with quick and constant back and forth, multiple twists and turns, and crackling dialogue propels these fun and highly-flawed characters toward an ending we just can’t see coming.”

Set in a cozy beach cottage on a private island off the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the team of movie makers have assembled in an attempt at a tranquil artistic retreat to put the finishing touches on the plans for their new film. Everything seems to be going as expected…that is until a creative new idea sends the whole retreat and everyone involved widely off-script. One thing leads to another, and soon enough, there’s an outline of a body taped out on the carpet.

Cue Sheriff Leroy. As the sheriff attempts to uncover the truth, he starts to realize that not everything is as it seems. Who will come out on top in this complicated web of alliances, betrayal, and love?

“This play combines all of the things I love about theatre—action, mystery, comedy, and suspense,” added Randazzo. “I’m excited to explore and create all of this alongside our talented cast and wonderful artistic team.”

Playing the conniving film director Hamilton Orr is Ben Cherry, who makes his FST debut with Smoke & Mirrors.

“Hamilton is an egocentric manipulator who believes he is always the smartest person in the room and is more than happy to prove it,” laughed Cherry. “He is driven by his desire to be in charge of everything that is worth doing or has to do with money.”

Bringing the character of Clark to life is Alberto Bonilla, who also makes his FST debut.

“In Smoke & Mirrors, every character is so passionate about what they believe that they will do absolutely anything to reach their goal,” said Bonilla. “Clark is so desperate to get the film to be the best it can be that his passion almost becomes his Achilles heel. I relate to that so much as an actor, director, and playwright. It’s great to play that out onstage and laugh at those aspects of myself!”

Joining Cherry and Bonilla onstage are Alanna Smith in the role of Barbara, the publicist, Jack Gerhard as the handsome, yet incredibly dense, actor Derek, and Justin Ness as the inept Sheriff Leroy. Gerhard was last seen at FST in the popular contemporary country music revue, Friends in Low Places (2022).

“As soon as I read Derek’s part, I knew he was a character that I could have a ridiculous amount of fun with,” said Gerhard. “I can’t wait to bring him to an audience.”

With all the bells and whistles expected of a murder mystery, this play turns the genre on its head and keeps the audience guessing (and laughing) until the end. But ultimately what sets Smoke & Mirrors apart is that it’s more than a whodunnit…it’s a will-they-get-away-with-it?!

Smoke & Mirrors played in FST’s Gompertz Theatre from August 3-28, 2022.