Appearing This Evening... by Anthony Keenleyside
A community theatre’s opening night. The lead is missing – and stays that way.
The action takes place over a couple of weeks. It begins shortly before the opening night of a comedy entitled Henry VIII, Wives VI. There is a problem: the person who plays the king is inexplicably missing. Opening night comes and goes without him. So does the entire run. The police are involved, and foul play is a possibility. The mystery behind his disappearance is only resolved following closing night, in the last few pages of the show.
This is a two-act comedy-mystery with laughs and murder. It has a cast of five (possibly seven) men and six women. Ages are not critical. The time is now.
Special Note From the Playwright! : If the ending is not a surprise, tell me why, and don’t do the show until I fix it!
Keywords: community theatre, opening night, missing lead, police investigation, surprise ending
Genre: Comedy, Mystery
Run time: 120 minutes
Suitable for students 16+
Content note: Contains strong language
Cast size: 11 actors
Male roles: 5
Female roles: 6
Casting note: There could be a total cast of 13. However, four male roles can easily be played by two actors and the script is written that way; doubling is only an asset if a larger cast is desired. Specific ages are not critical. Some, but not all, roles could conceivably be male or female. Race is not a factor.
"This is a love letter to community theatre and the delightful characters involved, using a murder mystery structure to express that love. Smart and wonderful!"
"This was a complete delight!!! …very cleverly written, with the names of the cast and an exciting and fun story, with lots of twists and turns and much humour, as well as mystery and dead bodies…Just wonderful."
"…it’s terrific: very inside-y, funny on all sorts of levels, prodigiously detailed, and ramping up to a surprise ending that had me fooled. The characters are complex and the dialogue pops."