Posts Tagged Joseph Goodrich

Cozy Reads (and Watches) for Mystery Lovers

Recently, Park Square’s Mystery Writers Producer’s Club had a virtual cocktail party with playwright Joe Goodrich (The Red Box, Might As Well Be Dead, Panic). Joe introduced his new book Unusual Suspects: Selected Nonfiction published by Perfect Crime Books. This scintillating collection runs the gamut from cozy to noir and celebrates the achievements and personalities of mystery writers working in print, film, television and radio. The collection concludes with a biographical study of Derek Marlowe, forgotten author of the 1960s espionage classic, A Dandy in Aspic.

Joseph Goodrich, pictured in a black fedora and thick glasses.

Mystery writer and playwright Joseph Goodrich.

Joe read a charming autobiographical piece from the book about himself as a young boy growing up in Marshall, MN working up the courage to call ALL THE WAY to New York City.  The call was to Dilys Winn, the owner of Murder Ink, the nation’s first bookstore dedicated to mysteries.

“‘She’d been impressed by expatriate bookseller Sylvia Beach, founder of the original Shakespeare & Co in Paris, and Beach’s example offered a way out of Madison Avenue. ‘I’ll open a bookstore, and call it Murder Ink,’ Winn said. ‘That was on a Wednesday. I found the store on Thursday, and signed the lease Friday. I opened six weeks later.'”

Cover of book titled Unusual Suspects: Selected Non-Fiction by Joseph Goodrich.Back in 1976 Murder Ink offered a “Magical Mystery Tour” to London for only $800 that included meetings with authors and “cocktails with firearms experts.” Alas, the packet of information she mailed to young Joe in Minnesota “went missing.”  (The chief suspects being Mr. and Mrs. Goodrich who most likely thought a London adventure was too much for a 13-year-old boy who’d never been further away than Sioux Falls.)

Before the Zoom call ended, club members did a “round robin” to share what everyone was reading or watching. The list below is mostly mysteries to read, watch or listen to, but there are also a couple of other topics thrown in for variety.

First on the list, of course, is Joe Goodrich’s Unusual Suspects: Selected Nonfiction which can be ordered from the Twin Cities’ own brick and mortar bookstore dedicated to mysteries: Once Upon a Crime, in Minneapolis.

As we all turn to art in all forms to weather the pandemic and continued shutdown of theatres, we hope you enjoy these recommendations from your fellow Park Square Theatre fans.

Cozy Recommendations from the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club

Happy reading, watching and listening!

The Case of the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club

  1. It was a dark and stormy night

Robyn Hansen, blog writer, Park Square Theatre, Saint Paul, MNTwo men stood outside the door of the Hansen-Clarey home. The glow from the front porch light revealed one man to be rather neatly and nattily dressed; the other, a bit more bohemian and slightly disheveled. They were Michael-jon Pease and Richard Cook, the executive director and artistic director of Park Square Theatre respectively. Why had they come? What was on their minds?

They had come with a scintillating proposal for longtime Park Square supporters Robyn Hansen and John Clarey: Would they consider being the producers for a Park Square play? Would they provide the funding of a show sans the day-to-day responsibilities of production? Would they consider supporting this concept that had never before been attempted at Park Square? And, while we’re asking . . . how about if we focus on the mysteries with which Park Square traditionally closes its seasons, since John is a mystery lover?

When the door opened wide, the men stepped inside, never suspecting how their action that evening would impact Park Square Theatre for years to come.

  1. The plot thickens

John and Robyn heard the two men out. Then this socially-inclined couple suggested a counter-proposal: Let’s assemble a large group of like-minded friends to create a producers’ club.

And the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club was born!

Members contribute 1,000 dollars or more per household to help underwrite new productions, new adaptations and new scripts. In return, Club members enjoy special access to behind-the-scenes events, such as production and concept meetings, rehearsals, an opening night dinner with the director (and writer for new commissions) and much more.

 

  1. Page turner

In the 2013-2014 season, the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club presented its first world premiere commission, The Red Box, adapted by playwright Joseph Goodrich from the fourth of 33 Nero Wolfe mysteries written by Rex Stout from the 1930s to 1970s. Peter Moore directed The Red Box, and actor E. J. Subkoviak perfectly embodied the role of the brilliant and eccentric armchair detective.

The Red Box proved to be a huge success, spurring the Club to offer in the following season Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, an adaption by local playwright Jeffrey Hatcher of local author Larry Millett’s novel of the same name.

Audiences were then treated to the musical mystery, Murder for Two, in the middle of the 2015-2016 season. Directed by Randy Reyes, this unique production featured just two talented actors on stage, Nic Delcambre and Andrea Wollenberg, playing all the roles.

Not only have Club productions been delightful, but Club activities connected to its shows also proved to be so informatively and socially fun that a member declared, “It’s the best 1,000 dollar donation I’ve ever made!”

 

  1. Surprise ending

This season, courtesy of the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club, Park Square Theatre features a second world premiere commission of a Nero Wolfe mystery, Might As Well Be Dead, on its Proscenium Stage from June 16 to July 30. The production brings back the winning team of Goodrich-Moore-Subkoviak as playwright, director and Nero Wolfe, respectively, in what Park Square describes as a case that “draws the detective into a web of deceit and regrets.”

The plot: A wealthy St. Paul business owner wants to make amends to her son Paul, whom she’d thrown out of the family business 11 years before. But where is he? Does he even want to be found?  And could he be the same Paul who is currently on trial for murder?

Might As Well Be Dead will be another fun ride for sure! And the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club lives on for another surprise ending and others yet to come.

 

——

Note: Some dramatic license was taken in the telling of this tale.

Photographs of members of the Mystery Writers Producers’ Club (from top to bottom): Robyn Hansen; Wes & Dierdre Kramer (photographed by Rachel Wandrei); Kay Thomas & Mimi Stake (photographed by Rachel Wandrei); Jim Rustad & Kay Thomas (photographed by Rachel Wandrei); Kay Thomas, Jim Rustad, Ken Lewis & Diana Lewis (photographed by Rachel Wandrei)

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