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California's Annual Community Play heats up with "Death of a Hot Sauce Salesman"

California's Annual Community Play heats up with "Death of a Hot Sauce Salesman"

June 7th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Life & Entertainment

A who-done-it mystery meshes with a Broadway classic to close out the season at the Finke Theatre with California's Annual Community Play, "Death of a Hot Sauce Salesman."

Like the 1949 classic, "Death of a Salesman," the plot centers around pride and money, but more sinister motives drive this tale of fortune and mystery, topped with a heaping helping of hot sauce.

"It's a fun spoof of what people will do with money involved and how far they will go," Director Carolyn Miller said.

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The first of two performances will take place 7 p.m. Saturday, with the following performance 2 p.m. Sunday at the Finke Theatre, 315 N. High St. The cast of 12 amateurs includes three high school students, three grade school students and actors who have never before performed in the community play.

Prescott Knight is dead.

His family members and close associates are the prime suspects. The High Knights Genuine Pepper Sauce empire owner discovered on the morning of the annual Knight Family Barbecue that someone wanted him dead, and Knight decided to alter his will to ensure the Hot Knights sauce recipe will be left in the right hands.

Hours after announcing his decision to the family, the patriarch is killed and the recipe stolen. And there, the mystery begins.

Miller said there will be alternate conclusions to each performance. So, Sunday attendants can experience an element of suspense, even if they saw the play Saturday.

"If you come Saturday night and think you have it figured out Sunday, you won't," Miller said. "The fun thing about this play is we are going to involve the audience. They are going to get an evidence sheet, they are going to get clues and they are going to help us figure out who the culprit was."

The annual Community Play has taken place since shortly after the Finke Theatre, built in 1885, reopened in 2009. California's local troupe, the Finke Community Players, began working on the play in February with auditions and rehearsals beginning in March.

Miller, who has been involved in six past performances, said the event has become a beloved tradition for California's performers and attendants alike, and the first performance is often sold out.

"It's a lot of work, but we have an absolute ball doing this," Miller said. "We become a family up on that stage."

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