Butch Maxwell

Butch Maxwell Directs Killer Comedy at Towngate

WHEELING, W.Va. (April 27, 2021) – – Comedic tales of revenge, blackmail, sex, money and jealousy are themes in Towngate Theatre’s latest production, Murderers by acclaimed Steubenville-born playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. Specially chosen and directed by Butch Maxwell, it closes Towngate’s 2020-21 season of community theater which is sponsored by Unified Bank.

Performed as three separate monologues, stories primarily center around a luxury retirement village in Florida’s sunny gulf coast. Murderers is not a whodunit, instead the culprits are introduced immediately. The fun for audiences will be following the how and why of three distinct cat-and-mouse mysteries as each killer confesses their plot, crimes and mishaps.

“While Murderers has deeply poignant and tragic elements, it is essentially a dark comedy about three good and decent human beings who, through very unlikely circumstances, become killers,” guest director Butch Maxwell explains. “It is an absolutely unique experience in theatre – one that people will remember fondly for some time to come,” he adds.


An actor’s showcase

Maxwell has cast veteran actors Vera Barton-Maxwell, Eric T. Dutton and Cathie Spencer for the three roles.

Murderers is truly an actor’s showcase, presented without a set, props or other actors with whom to interact. The storytelling abilities of the characters (and actors) and the imaginations of the audience will combine to move, amuse and inspire,” Maxwell said.

Meet the cast:

The cast of Murderers
The cast of Murderers (left to right): Cathie Spencer, Eric T. Dutton and Vera Barton-Maxwell.

Vera Barton-Maxwell (Minka)

Vera is an audience favorite at Towngate for comedic roles like those in Noises Off and The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Other credits include Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha.

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Eric T. Dutton (Gerald)
Eric is a veteran of over 75 theater productions, many of those at Towngate. He is known for his love of Irish plays with memorable performances in The Quiet ManCripple of Inishmaan and The Shaughraun.

Cathie Spencer (Lucy)
Cathie’s versatile acting has landed her numerous roles including those in The Diary of Anne Frank and The Glass Menagerie. She also works diligently behind-the-scenes as a member of the Friends of Towngate.

Getting back to normal

Oglebay Institute director of performing arts Tim Thompson is pleased Towngate can stage a production that meets current COVID-19 safety guidelines without alterations.

“With social distancing and mask wearing mandates, we’ve had to adjust many of the play selections for this season,” Thompson says. “With this production, each actor is on-stage individually and can remain maskless. This lets their talents shine-through with facial expressions; capturing the full essence of each character and story,” he adds.

More about guest director Butch Maxwell

Butch Maxwell is the author of more than 50 produced plays, including his one-act Fine, which was selected to be featured in Pittsburgh’s New Works Festival. He has acted in more than 20 Towngate Theatre productions and is a member of the improvisation ensemble the Left of Centre Players. A communications professor at several local colleges, he is also the co-founder/director of Mystery Theatre Unlimited and the new wave tribute band, the M-80s. In 2018, he directed Towngate’s production of August: Osage County.

Playwright has local roots

Jeffrey Hatcher is an actor and award-winning playwright and screenwriter born in Steubenville, Ohio. His plays have been performed nationwide and on Broadway. His screenplays have starred a who’s-who of Hollywood and include Stage Beauty (2004), Casanova (2005), The Duchess (2008), Mr. Holmes (2015) and The Good Liar (2019). He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie.

Get tickets:

Murderers will be staged May 7-9 and 14-15. Towngate’s curtain is at 8 pm. A 3 pm matinee takes place Sunday, May 9. Tickets are $12.50 ($11 OI members) and can be purchased at OIonline.com or by calling 304-242-7700. Seating is limited.

Towngate Theatre is located in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market district at 2118 Market Street.