The Purple Victory cast waves to their side during “Finale,” while singing of Purple pride. Photo by Kat Bell
It was Joseph, on the roof, with the pistol
“Whodunit?” was the question on every audience member’s mind as the plot of the Centennial Purple Victory show, “Murder En Plastique,” unfolded.
Putting a purple twist on a classic Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery, the show takes place in Montevallo’s own Flowerhill Manor, where guests have begun arriving for a mysterious dinner hosted by Lord Coulderoy.
The scene is set by a kooky trio of caretakers, the Wormpots, who greet the potential victims as they enter and join the show’s opening number, “What’s Going on Tonight?” The staff and guests alike ponder whether the night is to yield merry-making or despair, noting that either way the audience is in for a surprise.
Wayne Krelborne is the first to make his entrance, with his literal right-hand man and feathered friend, Bramwell, by his side. Lady Lucifere is next, donned in a stark-white fur coat and self-righteous attitude; then, Tippy LaRue finds her way inside, a young actress who claims to be on the up-and-up.
Michelo Stefanopolis, renowned painter and cheesemaker, follows shortly after, offering the other guests a pocketful of gruyere. The final guest, Evelyn White, arrives just in time to be greeted by family friend, Joseph Sheppard.
The two begin making small-talk, Joseph inquiring about Evelyn’s newfound home in New York, and Evelyn biting her tongue as Joseph not-so-subtly belittles and deprecates her “blossoming” career as a florist.
The pair’s catching-up is cut short, however, when Lady Lucifere enters a trance-like state, proclaiming that the host, Evelyn’s Uncle, may not be joining the group for dinner later that night, as he has embarked on a long and spiritual journey. Mr. Wormpot insists that Lord Coulderoy will, in fact, be present but a little tardy.
The guests are making their way to the dining room when one more visitor arrives at the door. Enter Puck Violet, the earnest small-town Sheriff and Evelyn’s long-time admirer. In his attempt to make conversation with the florist, the well-intentioned Puck only succeeds in putting his foot in his mouth, accidentally implying that Evelyn needs a man by her side to run a successful business. She’s quick to set him straight, though, with the tongue-in-cheek tune, “Woman.”
Once the duo joins the rest of the ensemble, the audience becomes privy to every guest’s relation to the host. Lady Lucifere is revealed to be Lord Coulderoy’s former lover, but the two split over irreconcilable differences. Joseph is the host’s old friend, as well as co-owner of Coulderoy’s Pet Preservation and Funeral Co., and he discloses that Wayne and Bramwell are engaged in a heated legal battle with the company. Michelo laments his experience painting a portrait of the host, but not being paid after Lord Coulderoy was dissatisfied with the work. Tippy was similarly snubbed in her pursuit of a part in a radio ad for the Pet Preservation Co.
These confessions are interrupted by the arrival of Lord Coulderoy himself. However, as Evelyn is quick to point out, something isn’t right. The host is stiff, pale and waxy-looking. His condition is confirmed when Sheriff Violet gives the cadaver a closer look, proclaiming, “He’s as hard as a rock.”
It’s Joseph that makes the grand reveal: Lord Coulderoy has been plastinated, a technique that converts organic remains into plastic and is often utilized in the pet preservation process.
Tensions are high and “Accusations,” fly when the room realizes that all within the walls of Flowerhill Manor had motive and means to murder Lord Coulderoy. As suspects in a murder investigation are wont to do, though, the guests claim innocence and split up.
Not long after, a second victim is unearthed: Michelo Stefanopolis. At the scene of the crime, Joseph finds a tuft of white fur, not unlike that found on Lady Lucifere’s jacket. However, before she can be apprehended for the misdeed, Lucifere confesses that the furs can’t match because hers are fake, and the found fur is real.
With that lead gone cold, the Wormpots are next to come under fire. The group postulates that surely the caretakers of the Flowerhill Manor are guilty; after all, who had a better opportunity?
This theory is shot down as well, though, when it’s revealed that the Wormpots are new hires and barely know the layout of the manor, let alone how to go about constructing a plot as intricate as this.
Panic sets in once more as it occurs to the guests that they’re being picked off one-by-one, with no way to contact the authorities and no clue as to who the killer truly is. With little hope and fewer options, the gang splits up once more to comb the manor for clues.
Left alone to search the library, Evelyn and Puck share a moment of tenderness. The couple sings of their long-shared admiration and affection for one another in “What I See,” reflecting on their growth since childhood. At the end of the number, Evelyn gifts Puck a flower her Uncle plastinated for her before she left for New York. He proudly pins it to his lapel, and the two exit to meet the others.
Once together, Bramwell and Lady Lucifere unveil a new piece of evidence, Lord Coulderoy’s last will and testament wherein he leaves everything he owns — including his company shares — to Joseph. While arising suspicion, the will itself proves nothing, and Wayne, Bramwell and Lucifere are left to stew in their disappointment at not catching the killer.
In an upbeat number titled “You Got a Problem,” the odd pair berates one another for their shortcomings before coming to the realization that they have more in common than they first believed.
As the night draws toward its close, Joseph frames Evelyn for both crimes, citing that he discovered the murder weapon for Michelo’s disposal — a white, plastinated cat — under the florist’s bed. Despite her pleas for the others to reconsider this conclusion, Joseph separates Evelyn from her fellow guests, leading her to Flowerhill Manor’s roof. It’s here where Joseph divulges his master plan (“Plastic”).
Meanwhile, as Puck laments his loss of Evelyn, he stumbles across the story’s figurative smoking gun: Lord Coulderoy’s true will, proving Evelyn’s innocence. The Sheriff then pursues the Villain to the roof, where the Florist is being held hostage. However, our heroes are then met with the story’s literal smoking gun: the pistol Joseph pulls from his pocket.
A brief struggle ensues, with a lone bullet being discharged and lodging into the plastinated flower pinned to Puck’s lapel. Although Joseph attempts to flee, the manor’s staff comes at him from all sides, and he’s ultimately captured.
With the threat of Joseph’s wrath removed, Evelyn is left with a choice. Will she return to New York and the flower shop, or stay in Montevallo to run the Pet Preservation business?
She answers, “There’s no place on Earth quite like this little town. It’s special. Magical. And I’ll always be honored to have called it my home, even if only for a little while.”
However, New York is the home to which she must return; but, not without Sheriff Puck Violet by her side. It’s decided that Lady Lucifere will remain at Flowerhill to look after the property, as well as the business, while the new couple begins their life together in the big apple.
Much like the side they represent, this group that began as strangers comes together as a family for the production’s “Finale,” singing of love and unity with their heads held high and PV’s held higher.