Pioneer Playhouse of Danville will open for its 74th season under the stars on June 9 with the world premiere production of Blood Suede Shoes: A Sergeant Elvis Presley Murder Mystery, written by Robby Henson, artistic director of the historic theatre his father, Eben C. Henson, founded in 1950.
Blood Suede Shoes: A Sergeant Elvis Presley Murder Mystery is an original comedy/mystery set in 1960 in a spooky Scottish castle where London’s posh set have gathered for a séance. Enter a dashing young Sergeant Elvis Presley – – not a ghost, but the real thing. Grounded on his way stateside due to stormy weather and a mysterious threat to his life, Sergeant Elvis quickly realizes he must use every bit of his down-home common sense and military training to catch a killer who may (or may not) be a lunatic escaped from the nearby asylum.
“The idea came when we were sitting around with the actors at lunch a couple of seasons ago, riffing on what might make a funny play,” says Robby Henson, who has written several crowd pleasers at Pioneer Playhouse, including The Wonder Team, Good Blues Tonight, and Breaking Up with Elvis, another Elvis-centric play. “I guess I had Elvis on the brain and thought it would be interesting to mix genres – – an Agatha Christie or Clue-type mystery/comedy with a young Elvis Presley thrown in.”
“Clue was extremely popular with our audiences,” says Heather Henson, sister to Robby, and managing and marketing director of Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theatre. “This has the same outrageous vibe and high energy. Lots of zany characters and crazy situations. I think people will love it.”
“The play was inspired by a tiny kernel of truth,” adds Robby. “As a sergeant in the army, Elvis’ plane was grounded on a stormy night in Glasgow in 1960. My story is a farcical take on what might have happened to make Elvis never want to return to Scotland again.”
Blood Suede Shoes: A Sergeant Elvis Presley Murder Mystery stars fan favorites Patricia Hammond, Daniel Hall Kuhn, and Erika Lee Sengstack, as well as faces new to the Pioneer Playhouse stage: Kevin Hardesty, whose theatre credits include the Broadway tour of Biloxi Blues and title roles of MacBeth and Hamlet, and in film: Not to Forget, Heathers, and Happy Together; and Daniel Bird Tobin, assistant professor of theatre at Centre College in Danville. Peyton White returns from last season, as does Jack Giglia, who wowed audiences as the title character in Dracula Bites, and this time brings a young Elvis to life.
Blood Suede Shoes: A Sergeant Elvis Presley Murder Mystery runs nightly, Tuesdays through Saturdays, June 9 through July 1. An optional dinner is served at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m. Dinner and Show is $36 per person; show only is $20. Group discounts are available. A bar serving beer, wine, and spirits is open to those 21 years and older.
Pioneer Playhouse is located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville. Tickets can be purchased on line at www.pioneerplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 859-236-2747. Plays are performed outdoors; rainchecks will be given for cancelation due to severe weather. weather.