The Port Lavaca Main Street Theatre will celebrate its 25th anniversary with “If it’s Monday, This Must be Murder,” a comedy written by Pat Cook, a Houston playwright, in the 1970s.

A gala will kick off the season in Suite 2 of the Nautical Landings Marina, while the play will open at 8 p.m. Thursday. Four more performances will follow Friday through Sunday.

Guests will enjoy finger foods and other refreshments at the gala. Johnny Krause, a guitarist with a role in the play, will provide the entertainment. The marina is within walking distance of the theater, so guests can walk to the theater in time for the play.

As the cast began rehearsing, the actress playing Glamis had questions about one of her lines, said Jody Weaver, who directs the play and portrays Freida Mae Bristow, a dingy country club member. Weaver decided to email the writer and was amused by his response. He quipped that he had written the play so long ago that he did not even remember writing the line. Then he posed the question, “What kind of name is Glamis?”

The play centers on the adventures of gumshoe detective Harry Monday on his journey to solve the murders of three members of the Shady Meadows Country Club. Cook wrote a number of plays featuring the detective. The Port Lavaca theater performed one of them, “Murder’s Bad But Monday Can Kill You!” in 2004.

Ronny Best, who played Detective Monday 15 years ago, agreed to play him again for the theater’s 25th anniversary.

“The audience really enjoyed it in 2004, so we asked Ronny to do it again because his part in particular has a lot of dialogue, and he said he was up for the challenge,” Weaver said. “So we did it.”

Weaver said the actors drop clues throughout the performance to help the audience solve the case. During intermission, the audience members can dig through a lost-and-found box in the lobby for more clues. Before the big reveal, the guests have the opportunity to select the character they believe is guilty of the murders with their applause.

“We were looking for a fun play,” Weaver said. “This is a time for us to get together and remember all the fun we’ve had the last 25 years and look forward to the next twenty-five.”

Russell Cain purchased the building in the early 1980s from Long Theaters and donated it to Port Lavaca Main Street Inc. in the early 1990s. A Meadows Foundation grant and support from local businesses helped the Main Street nonprofit refurbish the old building. The first play, “The Night of January 16th,” was performed Sept. 29, 1994.

The theater is a community project. Juanice Madden wrote the grants. Fay Bauer Sterling helped push the project through, and the theater provides a venue where children can build self-esteem and confidence, Cain said.

“The theater is a big part of the history of Port Lavaca,” Cain said. “It was a great community project, and the whole town contributed.”

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate. 

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