July 27, 2000


By KEVIN CLAPP / Staff Writer


Tuesday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 13

Totem Pole Playhouse

9555 Golf Course Road

Fayetteville, Pa.

Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m.; Sundays 3 p.m.

Tickets $18 to $25.


Fayetteville, Pa. - V Craig Heidenreich could tell you about his role in the upcoming Totem Pole Playhouse production of "Deathtrap."


But then he'd have to kill you.

Not really. But Ira Levin's comic thriller is scripted so tautly that providing too many details will spoil the suspense of watching it unfold onstage when it debuts Tuesday, Aug. 1.

"I've done other plays, and you can talk about (the characters). But the plotting in this is so intricate that you can't talk about them," Heidenreich said. "Anything any of us say or do may or may not be true."

Briefly, and only because the press material says so, "Deathtrap" concerns a once-successful mystery author forced to teach writing to make ends meet. After declaring his desire to return to Broadway scribing at any cost, Sidney Bruhl encounters a brilliant script by a student, inviting the youth to his home for a "story conference." Or is something more murderous in the young writer's future?

Heidenreich is making his first appearance at Totem Pole, as the washed-up playwright plotting a return to the Great White Way. Playing his wife, Myra Bruhl, is Playhouse veteran Jan Puffer, who has returned after four years away from the theater's summer productions.

"I was very happy to return. I've been here 10 summers. I believe it really is a second home," said Puffer, who lives in Minneapolis.

To return to Totem Pole in a production as inventive as "Deathtrap" has been a bonus, she said. The show's intricate pacing and sometimes dark humor set it apart from other mysteries.

"It's just a very suspenseful, intriguing thriller. The script is good, which always makes it more fun and challenging and satisfying," she said.

As an actor, Heidenreich said he appreciates the creativity and care Levin took to craft a tight, edgy story. He also said the multiple twists should keep the audience guessing through the final act.

"I've done some of the other big murder mysteries, and this has got the kind of dialogue that is reminiscent of the clever writing of the '40s and '50s. It's also probably the funniest of all the big murder mysteries," he said. "It's also fun that if you don't know it, you won't be able to figure it out right off."

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